CHICAGO — The seeds of the Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s evolution to becoming a complete solutions provider to the food and beverage industry may be found in its 2014 acquisition of Wild Flavors. The $3.1 billion acquisition expanded the company’s capabilities, particularly in natural flavors and beverage ideation and development.
“It put everything together,” said Vince F. Macciocchi, president of ADM’s Nutrition business unit. “In 2014, we were focused on nutrition, function and texture, but there was a component missing and that was taste.
“And as you know, everything comes back to taste. It drives the initial purchase and the repeat purchase. We had the ability with Wild to do full turnkey solutions.”
Today, Wild Flavors is a part of ADM’s Nutrition business. The company realigned its reporting units this past March, and the Nutrition business includes animal nutrition and bioactives as well as the Wild Flavors and specialty ingredients businesses.
“Our portfolio is really unmatched from a breadth and depth perspective,” Mr. Macciocchi said. “We can help companies reduce the number of suppliers they are working with, reduce formulation costs or even work with them on production and co-manufacturing. When you think about some of the pressure our customers have been under to reduce costs and from competitive pressures, that really presented an opportunity for us.”
Since the acquisition of Wild Flavors, ADM has invested in bolt-on acquisitions to support or expand capabilities. In 2015, the company acquired Eatem Foods, a provider of natural and organic savory flavor systems. Later that year the company acquired the tree nut and seed processing assets of California Gold Almonds. In 2016, ADM acquired Harvest Innovations, a manufacturer of minimally-processed, expeller-pressed soy proteins, oils and gluten-free ingredients.
“Our acquisitions have made sense to fill gaps, whether they are related to our portfolio, technology or a region,” Mr. Macciocchi said. “It has been a smart bolt-on strategy and it’s not done. There is a pipeline of other targets today.”
Consumer trends Mr. Macciocchi sees having an outsize impact on the market include natural, clean label, clear label and plant-based protein.
“We are rooted in natural, and we are fixated on plant-based protein,” he said.
Advancing the company’s position in plant-based protein, a new pea protein processing facility in Enderlin, N.D., is scheduled to come online in early 2019, according to the company. The complex also includes oilseed and edible bean processing facilities. In early November, ADM also announced the addition of Onavita algal DHA powder to its line of omega-3 fatty acid solutions. The powder may be used in such fortified food products as nutrition bars and powdered beverages and provide vegan and allergen-free labeling options.
An additional benefit for ADM from the Wild Flavors acquisition is it gave the company a foothold in the nascent market for emerging beverage brands.
“ADM was primarily serving the large C.P.G. beverage makers,” Mr. Macciocchi said. “If you look at the history of Wild, there was a lot of work being done with start-up beverage companies. By putting this all together it created a full range of solutions to serve the customer base. That is something that has continued to today.”