CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, US — As its parent company pursues a wide range of ambitious strategic initiatives, the ADM Milling and Baking Solutions team is moving forward as a full participant in the effort, embracing change to position the business and its customers for success, the division’s top executives said.
In an interview with Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, conducted at ADM headquarters in Decatur, Illinois, US, Christopher M. Cuddy, president of the ADM Carbohydrate Solutions business, and Tedd Kruse, president of Milling and Baking Solutions, reviewed their plans for the nation’s second largest flour milling company and discussed changes that have transpired at the company since a 2019 move of the flour business’s headquarters to Decatur from Overland Park, Kansas, US.
ADM operates 19 US mills with a combined 264,500 cwts of daily flour production capacity. The company is the largest milling company in Canada where it operates seven mills with 75,500 cwts of total daily capacity, is the second largest in the Caribbean where its three mills have 16,500 cwts of daily capacity, and is the second largest in the United Kingdom with six mills.
Smaller than the company’s oilseeds or corn processing businesses, flour milling since the 1970s stood out at ADM as the only significant division that was not based in Decatur. Cuddy said milling has not become a “small fish in a big pond” with its relocation to Decatur. Instead, the move has been viewed as an opportunity for milling to leverage deep and synergistic resources ADM’s North America headquarters offers that the milling business lacked when it was based in Kansas.
“We’re as committed to the business as we ever were, and moving here, I think, says a lot about that,” Cuddy said.
At the heart of the Decatur complex is a trading floor where hundreds of associates with a wide range of responsibilities conduct business and mill about.
“The connectivity here is incredible, whether you’re the wheat buyer, you’re selling coproducts from corn or wheat or soy, whether you’re in the textured protein business or you’re in barge freight, everything that we do happens in this building,” Cuddy said.
Beyond the value the collective expertise of the company’s professionals bring to the business, Cuddy spoke with passion about intangible benefits to the physical setup.
“The fact that there are no walls and no cubicles helps that connectivity, and it’s super powerful,” he said. “The energy out there is incredible, and it’s addictive. For me, it’s what brings me to work every day for the last 24 years. It’s like a shot of adrenaline coming here and seeing what’s going on.”
As ADM has intensified its focus around corporate-wide strategies targeting food security, sustainability and health and well-being, the importance of having brought milling into the fold increased, Cuddy said.
“Tedd’s business, milling — sustainability is a big part of what he’s doing,” Cuddy said. “Health and well-being is a big part of what he’s doing, and obviously food security is a big part of what he’s doing.
“We’re growing fast, and I wanted milling to be part of this ADM growth engine. They needed to breathe the air we breathe. It’s not just one business that has the excitement, it’s all of them collectively that drives this machine.”
Flour milling at ADM falls under Carbohydrate Solutions, one of three business segments at the company together with Agricultural Services and Oilseeds and Nutrition. Agricultural Services and Oilseeds includes grain merchandising and oilseed processing while Carbohydrate Solutions includes wet and dry corn milling together with wheat milling around the world (beyond North America and the Caribbean, ADM operates mills in the United Kingdom and has a mill in Central America). Falling within the Nutrition segment are two units, one focused on human nutrition and the second on animal nutrition.
The integration of milling in Decatur has given ADM the opportunity to offer many baking customers the ability to procure their ingredients from a single ADM salesperson.
“For example, our sweetener business,” Cuddy said. “If it’s being sold into the milling and baking area, Tedd’s group carries the water for them, so they’re our face to the market. We lean on Tedd’s team to be our experts in the milling and baking space.”
Kruse added, “We’re talking basic baking ingredients, that bakery pantry. Our team oversees the large bakery focused accounts. So you could have a salesperson, and they could be selling sweeteners, could be selling starches, could be selling flour. Could be selling bakery mixes, whatever it might be.”
He explained, “To Chris’s point, one of the great things of getting milling and baking solutions based in Decatur is the connectivity that we do have now and the access to subject matter experts who are more familiar with some of the newer and more complex nutrition solutions in that portfolio right now.”
Layering ADM’s priorities over flour milling, Cuddy particularly emphasized sustainability.
“This journey of sustainability is long and complicated and multifaceted,” he said. “The first step that Tedd took was deciding we’re going to have a carbon neutral milling footprint. It’s certainly very important for us, and we’re proud of that.”
The carbon neutral designation for the company’s mills was first announced in August 2021 and was described at the time by Cuddy as an “industry first of its kind and scale.” Covered by the designation are ADM’s wheat flour mills, dry corn milling facilities and its sorghum mill in the United States.
Going forward on the journey, Cuddy said partnering with ADM’s Agricultural Services and Oilseeds group has been and will be crucial, especially related to regenerative agriculture.
“Agricultural Services and Oilseeds has complete touch points throughout the entire supply chain, starting with the growers all the way to the finished solutions we’re providing to the customers,” he said. “What I think is a true differentiator, we are able to leverage at a scale that others just aren’t able to replicate.”
The carbon neutrality status was achieved with company-wide carbon capture and sequestration with credits going to the milling group, together with what Cuddy called “big energy treasure hunts.”