(Corrects headline to say profit beats, not beats profit)

July 29 (Reuters) – U.S. agricultural merchant Archer Daniels Midland Co beat expectations for quarterly earnings on Wednesday, as it benefited from higher margins in its agriculture services and oilseeds business.

The Chicago-based company said adjusted operating profit in the ag services and oilseeds unit, its biggest, rose 14% to $413 million in the second quarter.

The nutrition business was another bright spot for ADM, with a 35% jump in adjusted operating profit, underscoring the company’s push for growth by investing in specialty items such as plant-based, protein-rich ingredients used in high-margin vegan products.

“Global trade delivered another strong quarter, as countries looked to secure stable supplies of food amid the pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 85 cents per share during the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of 51 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Smaller rival Bunge Ltd also posted better-than-expected second-quarter profit on Wednesday, bolstered by oilseed crushing and robust crop exports to China. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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