‘The European market is specifically ripe for continued growth’: ADM talks Sojaprotein acquisition and plant-based growth

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

ADM eyes European plant-based growth with M&A / Pic: GettyImages Diane Labombarbe
ADM eyes European plant-based growth with M&A / Pic: GettyImages Diane Labombarbe

Related tags Adm plant-based

ADM plans to acquire European supplier Sojaprotein in a move that it says will accelerate growth of its alternative protein platform. We find out what the deal means for the ag-food giant – and ask what it tells us about Europe’s runway for growth in plant-based.

ADM has reached an agreement with Serbian conglomerate MK Group to acquire Sojaprotein, a ‘leading’ European supplier of non-GMO soy ingredients.

Established in 1977, today Sojaprotein has a sales presence in 65 countries and offers a ‘wide array’ of vegetable protein ingredients to customers in the meat alternative, confectionery, protein bar, pharmaceutical, pet food, and animal feed segments. The company had more than $100 million in sales in 2020, ADM revealed.

The transaction, which remains subject to regulatory approval, would build on ADM’s recent investments in alternative proteins. These include the company’s soy protein complex in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil; its new pea protein plant in Enderlin, North Dakota; its PlantPlus Foods joint venture; and partnerships with innovative startups like Air Protein.

Allyson Fish, President of global plant and alternative proteins at ADM, explained the group’s latest investment stands testament to the potential that the company sees in the alt protein space.

“The global demand for plant-based offerings is rapidly increasing, and the European market is specifically ripe for continued growth,”​ she noted.

European plant-based consumption has increased by 49% in two years, reaching a total sales value of €3.6 billion, according to Nielsen data produced for Proveg International and the Smart Protein project. Large consumer markets like Germany have led the way, where the plant-based meat sector has grown by 226% while plant-based cheese sales jumped 150%. This significant and rapid scale-up comes as a green-light for increased food sector investment in the space.

This rapid growth has opened up an opportunity for ADM – one that it will be better placed to capitalize on following the acquisition. “There is a need to provide locally sourced, non-GM soy ingredients to consumers in this market, and bringing the Sojaprotein team into the fold helps fill this gap. By adding Sojaprotein’s capabilities to our own, we’re strategically expanding our global alternative proteins capacity, and specifically positioning ADM to meet the fast-growing demand for locally sourced, non-GM ingredients in Europe,”​ Fish told us.

Sojaprotein’s local production capacity is key for ADM. “We plan to leverage Sojaprotein’s production capacity for locally sourced soy protein to further our capabilities,”​ Fish elaborated.

Sales synergies and R&D boost

Following the deal, ADM expects to benefit from sales synergies, stepping up growth by feeding Sojaprotein ingredients into its global network. At the same time, Fish revealed, ADM will benefit from the Serbian company’s established customer relationships in Europe.

“Using our capabilities and global network, we will be able to extend Sojaprotein’s reach throughout the marketplace. Plus, Sojaprotein will provide ADM with important access to an established customer base, which coupled with ADM’s broad pantry of solutions and product development capabilities, we will be able to better serve customer needs in the plant protein space,”​ she predicted.

Thirty years ago, ADM famously ‘invented’ the soy vegetable burger. The company has a long history of expertise in the field of research and development. And the US-based supplier plans to leverage this to strengthen Sojaprotein’s position in the market.

“At ADM, we have over 60 years of research and technical expertise in soy protein and plant-based applications. Our deep-rooted knowledge will help push forward Sojaprotein’s reach and optimization. We’re confident that our abilities and areas of expertise will continue to strengthen as we learn from each other.”

Fish confirmed that the two companies will continue to operate on a stand-alone basis. Nevertheless, ADM does expect to benefit from operational synergies following completion.

“We anticipate operational synergies will include increased revenue opportunities like improved utilization and increased yields in crush and protein operations; and value creation from added ADM capabilities to the overall value proposition. We look forward to coupling our longstanding expertise in the plant protein space with Sojaprotein’s access and ability to produce locally sourced, non-GM soy proteins.”

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