Interview: Sustainable Innovation Across the Food Value Chain with ADM’s Greg Morris
Greg Morris, senior vice president and president of Agricultural Services and Oilseeds at ADM
In your view, what are the biggest challenges facing the food system today?
It is clear that we are facing an interlinked global challenge encompassing food security and the environment. The global population is set to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050, representing a 26% increase from today. At the same time, there is an urgent need to curb climate change and ensure an abundant future for people around the globe.
We must address both sides of the coin and cannot do it in silos. ADM believes that all stakeholders across the agriculture value chain must participate in creating a sustainable global food system. Growers are producing more than ever before while minimizing environmental impacts, but more needs to be done to meet the nutrition needs of a growing world population while ensuring good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farmers rely upon.
What role does technology play in driving sustainability across ADM’s value chain?
At ADM, we’re leading a dramatic transformation and modernization of the agriculture and food supply chain. We are committed to using our scale, supplier relationships, and on-the-ground partnerships to pioneer new technologies and approaches that reduce carbon emissions, increase crop yields, improve soil health, and promote water efficiency while supporting the livelihoods of grower communities.
For example, this year we launched an ambitious new Policy to Protect Forests, Biodiversity and Communities commitment, which aims to eliminate deforestation from all of our supply chains by 2030. In our South America soy supply chain specifically, we’re using advanced technologies – like satellites – and partnering with producers to ensure we are not sourcing from any newly deforested areas in the Amazon; we’re committed to full traceability in our South American soy supply chains by the end of 2022.
We also recognize the role we play in reducing carbon emissions and are creating a portfolio of carbon neutral product offerings, starting with carbon neutral flour, which we expect to achieve next year. We’re using a wide variety of technologies and tools to achieve this, including our carbon capture and storage capabilities at our Decatur, Illinois facility, which allow us to permanently sequester carbon dioxide a mile underground, preventing it from being emitted into the atmosphere.
What behavioral shifts are you witnessing among consumers when it comes to sustainability, and how is ADM responding?
Today consumers around the world expect their food and beverages to come from sustainable sources, produced by companies that share their values. Our research indicates that 65% of consumers try to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions.
We strive to meet these expectations by reducing the environmental impact of our operations and supply chain through innovation. For example, ADM has been a pioneer in the alternative protein space, having been the first to patent textured vegetable protein and to bring a veggie burger to market. We are the partner of choice to produce alternative based proteins, with a portfolio of protein solutions from over 30 distinct sources spanning plant-based, cell-based, microbial fermentation, and more.
In addition to meeting consumer demand, innovations in alternative proteins have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and create other environmental benefits. Researchers estimate that replacing meat protein with plant-based protein can conserve both land and water resources, such as up to 1,300 square meters of land per kilogram of beef and up to 1,800 liters of water per kilogram of pork.
How is ADM working toward influencing innovation within the agricultural industry?
We believe agriculture is fundamental in achieving an enduring climate solution, and that the industry needs to focus on two areas. The first is generating reliable data on the ability of regenerative agricultural practices to lower the carbon intensity of crop production. And second, we must incentivize farmers to ensure they benefit from the transition to more sustainable production.
ADM is already active in these two interlinked areas. For example, in the U.S., through our founding membership in the Ecosystem Market Services Consortium, we are developing a national scale program to recognize and reward farmers and ranchers for the environmental services they provide, such as soil carbon sequestration and enhancements to water quality. The project will stack and sell carbon and water quality credits to meet corporate reporting requirements and improve agricultural resilience.
With the Cool Farm Alliance, we are working with growers in Europe to use the Cool Farm Tool to pinpoint where the majority of greenhouse gases are being emitted at the farm level. The online application simplifies the complexity of calculating a carbon footprint, requiring only 10 to 15 minutes to complete. By entering data such as the types of crops grown, soil characteristics, the use of fertilizers, irrigation, and transport, the tool can produce detailed information on the types and sources allowing us to will track progress and analyze the impact of agricultural practices to enhance sustainability. In addition, the Alliance helps us support farmers with improved market access, while also meeting the growing demand for sustainable products from our customers, globally.
We are leveraging our position as a major merchandiser of sustainable crops to scale projects like these and urge others in the industry to increase their investments as well.
About Greg Morris
Greg Morris is senior vice president and president of ADM’s Agricultural Services and Oilseeds business unit, and a member of the company’s Executive Council. In that role, Morris has responsibility for the company’s agricultural origination, global trading, transportation and oilseeds processing businesses. He also has strategic oversight of ADM’s operations in South America.
About ADM At ADM, we unlock the power of nature to provide access to nutrition worldwide. With industry-advancing innovations, a complete portfolio of ingredients and solutions to meet any taste, and a commitment to sustainability, we give customers an edge in solving the nutritional challenges of today and tomorrow. We’re a global leader in human and animal nutrition and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company. Our breadth, depth, insights, facilities and logistical expertise give us unparalleled capabilities to meet needs for food, beverages, health and wellness, and more. From the seed of the idea to the outcome of the solution, we enrich the quality of life the world over. Learn more at www.adm.com.