Chicago Farmers get a view of ADM’s future

    Ian Pinner, senior vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer at ADM and president of the company’s Health and Wellness division, talked about ADM’s future and its many expanding roles during Chicago Farmers’ March 8th  ZOOM meeting.

    “Unlocking the power of nature to enrich the quality of life” is ADM’s new purpose and focus for the future. Known as a global leader in human and animal nutrition and a premier agricultural organization and processing company, ADM continues to evolve so that it aligns with the latest trends, according to Pinner. “This description of ADM reflects the transformation of ADM and directly impacts how we interact with farmers every day,” he said.

    “ADM thinks about trends in such areas as sustainability, alternative proteins, and consumers’ needs,” said Pinner. “We are updating our brand as part of our evolution to stay fresh and refreshed. We continue to build on our legacy of processing wheat and beans, but we also are evolving the value that ADM can create and keeping it current in the marketplace.”

    Pinner noted that ADM does more now than ever before. While it is known as a buyer and seller of farm products, it has expanded its capabilities up and down the value chain, he said. A leading nutrition company, ADM is aware of the fact that across the food value chain there is a tremendous shift in consumers’ tastes that offers opportunities to companies that are agile and resourceful.

    “There is an evolving demand that is happening at a time of innovative technology to support new approaches to nutrition,” Pinner noted. “In response to this, ADM purchased Wild Flavors six years ago. We built and expanded 16 production facilities for feed protein complexes in the United States to meet the needs of animal nutrition.”

    He noted that ADM also has implemented high tech ways of interacting with its customers and engages in daily virtual tastings of its products. It has more than 50 innovation centers.

    Enhanced science and technology capabilities and investment in market research allows
    ADM’s Nutrition business to support its customers from the development of their ideas to a product and to market in record time, related Pinner.

    Regarding animal nutrition, he went on to say that consumers want their pets and livestock to be raised humanely and sustainably. ADM has dramatically expanded in this area through acquisitions and organic investments and finding solutions in nature so that it has a range of ingredients that meet animals’ nutritional needs.

     ADM’s Health and Wellness business is expanding the universe of pre-, pro-, and post-biotics. And the company is pioneering sustainable and renewable solutions such as plant-based replacements for materials that were traditionally made from petroleum and other non-renewable resources. And it is still one of the world’s largest buyers, transporters and processors of agricultural products.  “We remain a premiere global supply chain manager matching local needs with global capabilities,” said Pinner.

    He shared that ADM also is developing partnerships that match the bounties of the American farmers. It has collaborated with Innova Feed, a leader in producing insect ingredients for animal nutrition, and Spiber, a Japanese biotechnology start-up that takes corn by-products and turns them into polymers for such things as light weight auto products, apparel, and high performance foam. Pinner said the polymers will play a role in expanding the range of plant based, sustainable alternative materials.

    “Everything ADM does starts with the farmers; your goals are our goals,” said Pinner. “We connect what you grow with the world; we connect farmers with customers looking for a certain product; and we are expanding how we move products around the world and enhancing your global reach. We are partners with farmers as we expand the scope of what we do to meet today’s most pressing challenges.”

    Regarding the impact of Covid-19 on ADM’s thinking, Pinner said that Covid has acted as an accelerator around trends such as sustainability, more natural products, traceability, addition of  pets to households, and more demand for functional products that are healthy. He said these are ideal situations for ADM’s Nutrition business, which recorded $6 billion in human and animal nutrition sales this year.

    Regarding the future for ethanol in ADM’s plans, Pinner said that the company continues to look at its portfolio to determine the status of products. It is continuing a strategic review of its corn dry mill assets, which were temporarily furloughed due to the drop in demand in fuel due to Covid restrictions, and which the company expects to restart in the first half of this year. Pinner said ADM was excited about the advent of the vaccines and seeing more cars on the road because these factors would have a positive effect on ethanol demand.

    In discussing regenerative agriculture, Pinner said that ADM’s role is to identify how the products can be sourced. He noted, “We need standards so there is a level playing field.”

    In response to a question from the webinar audience, Pinner said that infrastructure in the United States is a key business advantage; the cost to move soybeans down the inland waterway system to the Center Gulf, for example, is very competitive and it is important to hold that advantage. “We would like to see more investment in the river, roads, and rail infrastructures to maintain competitiveness,” he added.

    Written by Chicago Farmers Editor Denise Faris