Bunge (NYSE: BG) had a strong start to 2011. The company's first-quarter profit jumped more than threefold from a year ago as global demand for grains multiplied.

This year, the agribusiness market has been characterized by a shortage in supply because of adverse weather and trade conditions. To overcome supply constraints, farmers around the globe have increased their harvests and relied on more efficient use of inputs to boost production. Those measures have led to strong performance in this sector. Let's take a look at how Bunge performed in the lead off to 2011.

A look at the numbers
Revenues in the first quarter increased to $12.1 billion from $10.3 billion in the year-ago quarter, up 18%. This was mainly because of the strong performance seen in its grain merchandising division, which profited from high demand seen in exports for the Americas.

Net income may have risen by a staggering 268%, but the net income margins showed only a marginal improvement -- to 2% from 1% in the year-ago quarter. This is mainly because agribusiness companies have had to deal with historically high grain prices. Since companies like Bunge both buy and sell grains as they process output, they have to face high cost of inputs.

Similar trends are seen in other agribusiness companies as well such as Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM), which Bunge competes with. Archer Daniels' revenues for the quarter ending March 31 rose 33%, but its net income margin remained at 3%.

What the future holds
The future looks pretty bright for Bunge. Recently, it joined forces with SEACOR Holdings (NYSE: CKH) to construct a river grain export terminal in Illinois. When this is up and running, it will definitely help Bunge in its global expansion plans.

In the agribusiness segment, the strong performance seen at the start of the year is expected to continue. Since the harvest season is upon us, production is going to increase, possibly translating into higher sales. In the sugar and bioenergy segment, less supply coupled with a high demand for ethanol in Brazil will likely push up prices, which may work to Bunge's advantage.    

The Foolish bottom line
All in all, I think Bunge can carry its strong start to the year forward. With expansion plans in place and the demand for goods increasing, as supply shortages remain intact, Bunge is well-placed to see a boost to its top line and, hopefully, the bottom line as it powers through the rest of the year.

Shubh Datta doesn't any own shares of the companies listed above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.