Food companies strengthen biochems biz

The green blog has been noticing that major food manufacturers seem to be loudly proclaiming their comeback to their historical roots of producing biobased chemicals.

Take for example Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which announced yesterday the hiring of its former employee Paul Bloom as business director of the company’s Industrial Chemicals business. I remembered writing articles about some of ADM’s industrial chemicals products such as linseed oil for paints, glycerine, and non-food use for soybean oil and corn (such as biodiesel, ethanol, sorbitol…). These days, ADM’s portfolio have now expanded to propylene glycol, isosorbide, and of course its Mirel bioplastic through the joint venture company Telles.

The company noted on the press release that their much-awaited glycerine-to-propylene (and ethylene) glycol plant in Decatur, Illinois, is expected to be fully operational in Spring 2011. The plant started up in Spring last year…

Another food company, Corn Products International, announced today that it plans to invest between $75 million and $100 million over the next several years to support the growth of its Brazilian business, which also include biobased industrial chemicals. Also worth noticing is Corn Products’ recent acquisition of National Starch. I used to communicate with National Starch on their industrial adhesives, cosmetic and personal care ingredients, and paper chemicals.

Corn Products said this recent Brazilian investment will focus on expanding capacity and develop new ingredient solutions particularly to support the rapid growth of the food, beverage and industrial sectors in the region. The company, I believe, is also working on bioplastic which makes sense being a starch company.

Others such as Tate & Lyle, Roquette, and Cargill are all very much active in bioplastic and the development of plant-based chemicals.

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