ADM is a global leader in human and animal nutrition and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company. In this Q&A, senior vice president and president of ADM’s Agricultural Services and Oilseeds business unit, Greg Morris, discusses the company’s rich history and future in Illinois.
Q: Can you tell us about ADM’s history in Illinois and its operations in the state today?
A: ADM started as a linseed-oil processor 119 years ago in 1902. A few short years later in 1969, we moved our headquarters to Decatur, Illinois, so we’ve called Illinois home for almost 50 years. In 2014, we moved our Global Headquarters to Chicago, and Decatur became the home for our North American headquarters
We now have more than 5,000 employees in 42 communities throughout the state. We are continuing to build on our heritage as the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company and have now become a global leader in human and animal nutrition as well. Our state-of-the-art facilities in locations such as Decatur, Quincy, Mendota and Effingham are helping drive innovation throughout the industry, and In the past five years alone, we’ve invested more than $250 million in our operations throughout Illinois.
Q: How does ADM collaborate with the State, local communities, universities and the innovation ecosystem?
A: ADM’s purpose is to unlock the power of nature to enrich the quality of life. We’re facing monumental challenges as an industry to find innovative new ways to meet the growing global demand for food and nutrition as the world’s population is expected to double over the next 50 years. Collaboration is key to addressing those challenges. Here in Illinois, we work closely with all of the universities throughout the state as well as the communities where we operate to not only advance the food and ag industries but also make Illinois a better place to live and work. ADM is involved on a variety of levels with projects such as the new Feed Technology Center at the University of Illinois and partnerships like Chicago-based Plug N Play focused on breakthrough ideas around the future of food. And even though we are not farmers, we work closely with farmers every day. Through the S.T.A.R program created by the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership, we are helping encourage and enable sustainable farming practices here in our state. The list goes on and on.
Q: Why is Illinois a good place for ADM to do business and grow?
A: Chicago is a world class city and an innovation hub for the food industry. As one of the world’s leading nutrition companies, it’s been a great competitive advantage to be part of that landscape. At the same time, everything we do originates with the farmer, and our North American headquarters in Decatur and robust operations throughout the state help us stay in close contact with our farmer customers and the heart of our processing and origination network. We truly have the best of both worlds here in Illinois.
Q: How do you see the agriculture and ag tech industries growing and innovating throughout the state and beyond?
A: As the bridge between producers and food product brands, ADM is involved in the entire global food supply, and we see innovation happening all the way from the farm to the fork. Consumer demand is driving changes around sustainability, health and wellness and more personalized nutrition, and we are working to provide differentiated solutions to meet these needs. From increasing supply chain traceability to implementing eco-friendly transportation solutions to leading the development of new alternative protein ingredients and bio-based chemicals and plastics, we are continuing to drive new technology and advancements at each step in the food and ag value chain. It’s an exciting, transformational time to be a part of this industry, and we are leveraging our operational scale, supplier relationships, and on-the-ground partnerships to drive innovation forward both in Illinois and around the entire world.
Q: How have the state’s assets, such as its central location and educated workforce (and any other attributes you find important), benefited ADM?
A: Certainly from a transportation perspective, Illinois’s central location and river and rail access are a competitive advantage and allow ADM to move grain and end products efficiently and cost-effectively to customers around the world. Additionally, as we work to build a more diverse workforce throughout our business, Chicago’s position as premier location for top food and beverage companies is key as we work to attract the best and brightest talent to ADM. Ag education efforts throughout the state are also helping to change the perception of ag for the next generation as we are looking to develop our workforce for years to come.