Archer-Daniels-Midland Company History
P.O. Box 1470
Decatur, Illinois 62525
Telephone: (217) 424-5200
Fax: (217) 424-5839
Sales: $14.28 billion (1999)
Stock Exchanges: New York Chicago Tokyo Frankfurt Swiss
Ticker Symbol: ADM
NAIC: 111419 Other Food Crops Grown Under Cover; 112511 Finfish Farming and Fish Hatcheries; 311119 Other Animal Feed Manufacturing; 311211 Flour Milling; 311212 Rice Milling; 311213 Malt Manufac-turing; 311221 Wet Corn Milling; 311222 Soybean Processing; 311223 Other Oilseed Processing; 311312 Cane Sugar Refining; 311320 Chocolate and Confectionery Manufacturing from Cacao Beans; 311823 Dry Pasta Manufacturing; 311830 Tortilla Manufacturing; 311999 All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing; 312140 Distilleries; 325193 Ethyl Alcohol Manufacturing; 325411 Medicinal and Botanical Manufacturing; 422510 Grain and Field Bean Wholesalers; 493130 Farm Product Warehousing and Storage; 522110 Commercial Banking; 523130 Commodity Contracts Dealing
We think of ourselves as a global company because we produce a truly global product: food. It isn't subject to trends, and the demand never decreases. It transcends all languages, all boundaries, all social classes. Kings and presidents need it as much as the people they serve. Food is the common element of humanity. And in an increasingly urban world, the job of growing, producing, and distributing food falls upon a relatively small group of individuals and entities. ADM is one of those entities. Using a production and distribution network with points at strategic locations around the world, we're taking the farmer's bounty and making it accessible to everyone. And because we're a global company, each one of those locations feels like home. Key Dates:
- John W. Daniels begins crushing flaxseed to make linseed oil in Ohio.
- Daniels moves to Minneapolis to organize the Daniels Linseed Company.
- George A. Archer joins the firm, which is renamed the Archer-Daniels Linseed Company within a few years.
- Company purchases the Midland Linseed Products Company, then incorporates as the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company.
- Commander-Larabee Company, a major flour miller, is acquired.
- Dwayne O. Andreas purchases a block of stock, gaining seats on the company board and the executive committee.
- Andreas is named CEO.
- Company purchases Corn Sweeteners, Inc., producer of high-fructose syrups, glutens, oil, and caramel color.
- Andreas is elected chairman.
- The Columbian Peanut Company is acquired.
- Company forms grain marketing joint venture with Growmark.
- Company pleads guilty to two counts of fixing prices of lysine and citric acid and pays $100 million in criminal fines.
- Company acquires W.R. Grace's cocoa business, marking its entry into that sector; G. Allen Andreas is named CEO.
- Three former company executives, including Michael D. Andreas, are convicted by a federal jury of price fixing.
- Dwayne Andreas retires as chairman; CEO Allen Andreas is named to the additional post of chairman; Michael Andreas begins serving two-year prison sentence.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) is one of the world's leading processors and distributors of agricultural products for food and animal feed, with additional operations in transportation and storage of such products. Its principal operations are in the processing of soybeans, corn, and wheat, the three largest crops in the United States. ADM also processes cocoa beans, milo, oats, barley, and peanuts. The company's feed products are sold to farmers, feed dealers, and livestock producers, while its food products are sold to food and beverage manufacturers. Among ADM's better-known products are NutriSoy, a soy protein; Novasoy Isoflavones, an ingredient used in dietary supplements; xanthan gum, a thickening agent used in food products such as salad dressings; citric acid and lactic acid, both used as food additives in food and beverage products to increase their acidity; natural vitamin E; and ethanol, an additive made from corn that is added to gasoline to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles. With 247 processing plants (including those owned, leased, or operated in joint ventures) in the United States and 121 overseas, Archer-Daniels-Midland calls itself the 'Supermarket to the World.' For most of its history, ADM was quiet and conservative; however, in the mid-1990s the company hurtled into the headlines through its involvement in price-fixing schemes involving citric acid and the livestock feed additive lysine.
John W. Daniels began crushing flaxseed to make linseed oil in Ohio in 1878, and in 1902 he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to organize the Daniels Linseed Company. The company consisted of a flax crushing plant that made three products: raw linseed oil, boiled linseed oil, and linseed cake or meal. In 1903 George A. Archer joined the firm, and in a few years it became the Archer-Daniels Linseed Company. Archer also brought experience to the firm, as his family had been in the business of crushing flaxseed since the 1830s. Archer and Daniels then hired a young bookkeeper by the name of Samuel Mairs, who eventually became the company's chairperson.
These three men had a common goal of 'year-round production at low margins,' a goal that continued to direct the company into the 21st century. Archer and Daniels used hydraulic presses to process flaxseed, and their linseed oil was essentially the same as that used by the ancient Egyptians. In the early years, profits were low, but Archer-Daniels Linseed never finished a year in debt. They also grew slowly, buying the stock of the Toledo Seed & Oil Company as well as the Dellwood Elevator Company, a grain elevator firm.
In 1923 the company purchased the Midland Linseed Products Company and then incorporated as the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company. The 1920s also brought other significant changes. Archer, Daniels, and Mairs began the scientific exploration of methods to alter the chemical structure of linseed oil. This project initiated the company's successful research and development program. Research and development allocations were not commonplace for companies at that time, and the market took note of the company's slogan: 'Creating New Values from America's Harvests.'
Throughout the 1920s the company made steady purchases of oil processing companies in the Midwest while engaging in other agricultural activities. It built elevators on Minneapolis loading docks to store grain awaiting shipment down the Mississippi to other ports. Then, in 1930, Archer-Daniels-Midland purchased the Commander-Larabee Company, a major flour miller with plants in Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri. Commander-Larabee was capable of producing 32,000 barrels per day. The purchase of Commander-Larabee had two additional advantages: it allowed ADM to coordinate its oil byproduct business with Commander-Larabee's feedstuff byproduct business, and the mutual sales effort lowered overhead. During this time, the company also discovered how to extract lecithin from soybean oil, reducing the price of lecithin from ten dollars to one dollar per pound. (Lecithin was widely used as an emulsifier in the food and confectionery industries.) As a result of Archer-Daniels-Midland's growth strategies and research activities, the company had $22.5 million in assets by 1938.
As a linseed oil manufacturer, Archer-Daniels-Midland interacted with more than just the food market. The paint product industry used drying oils--namely, linseed, tung, and perilla--in the manufacture of various products to add critical gloss and hardness properties to paint finishes. The demand for drying oil in the paint industry fluctuated widely because it depended heavily on construction, as well as on the availability and price of imported oils, since most oils were imported from the Far East and South America. Sales and profits also fluctuated due to the quality and size of each year's harvest. Despite these challenges and the onset of the Great Depression, the company continued to turn a profit, in part because Archer-Daniels-Midland had been working to adapt oils to new markets, including soaps, drugs, brake fluids, lubricants, petroleum, and chemicals.
Since Archer-Daniels-Midland knew the value of its research department, it appropriated 70 percent of its earnings ($1--$2 million annually) back into the business for development and expansion. One result was a process whereby the usable fibers (the tow) of flax straw (a waste product up to then) could be used in the manufacture of flax papers. World War II made it impossible for the company to increase its facilities as much as it wished; nevertheless, ADM's capacities grew significantly from 1930 to 1945. From a 1929 processing capacity of 20 million bushels of flaxseed per day, the company could process 36.6 million bushels per day by 1945. Wheat flour capacity went from zero to 30 million bushels per day. Grain storage capacity increased from 7.5 million to 50.4 million bushels per day.
The immediate postwar years from 1946 through 1949 showed dramatic growth: sales increased 287 percent, and net income increased 346 percent. In 1949 sales were $277 million, with a $12 million net profit. Archer-Daniels-Midland was well positioned in several market areas because it supplied basic ingredients to a wide range of industries. The company was the leading U.S. processor of linseed oil, the fourth largest flour miller, and the largest soybean processor. It also served the paint, leather, printing, gasoline, paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber, ceramics, munitions, and insecticides industries.
A conservative management style had consistently safeguarded the company's success. For instance, whenever possible, Archer-Daniels-Midland hedged its purchases of raw products by sales in the futures markets or by forward sales of the completed products. By the end of fiscal year 1949, the company had no bank debt, and it had paid a dividend every year from 1927 onward. All plants were kept at a high state of operating efficiency, using modern, streamlined methods. There had also been a change in the processing level. The company began to put its products through advanced physical processing instead of selling them in a raw or semi-finished state, thereby increasing profit margins. Overall, management estimated that 40 percent of its increase in sales from 1939 to 1949 was due to new products and methods.
Because the company supplied core oils used in foundry industries, the outbreak of the Korean War increased demands on production through the early 1950s. The company was also increasing its outlay for whale oil procurement, which it had begun in the 1930s, and began increasing its production of protein concentrates, marketing them extensively for stock-feeding purposes.
When President Thomas L. Daniels (son of the founder) and Chairperson Samuel Mairs celebrated Archer-Daniels-Midland's 50th anniversary in 1952, the company was manufacturing over 700 standard products and had extended its operations overseas. More foreign expansion followed in Peru, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In these ventures, the company specialized in partnerships with local interests. President Daniels expressed the company's attitude toward foreign involvement in the late 1950s when he said: 'ADM looks with particular favor on Western Europe as an area of great chemical producers. ... All industry there is expanding rapidly, both for local consumption and for export to other parts of the world.'
Archer-Daniels-Midland had weathered the Great Depression and World War II, but ran into trouble during the 1960s. Although it made several grain production and storage purchases in the early 1960s, unstable commodities prices and the company's chemicals operations were causing losses. Net earnings were $75 million in 1963 and then declined to about $60 million in 1964, dropping even further to $50 million the following year. By 1965, the company could not cover its dividend. At this time, John Daniels, president and grandson of one of the founders, and Shreve M. Archer, Jr., a company director, recruited Dwayne O. Andreas to the leadership team. Andreas gradually took control of the company, gaining seats on the board and the executive committee in 1966, being named CEO in 1970, and being elected chairman in 1972. Andreas revolutionized Archer-Daniels-Midland.
Mid-1960s Through 1980s: Andreas the 'Soybean King'
Andreas's low profile appealed to the company management, as did his background in the production of farm products. One of the first things Andreas did was eliminate a 27-person public relations department. Eschewing the advice of analysts and often declining to talk to reporters, Andreas was a unique executive. His political views were often in opposition to those of the larger business community; for example, he advocated increases in the corporate income tax rate.
Andreas believed that one specific product--soybeans--could do a great deal to turn the company around. Andreas recalled, 'I knew that ADM was a dozen years ahead of everyone else in textured vegetable protein research, and I believed that was where important action was going to be.' Whereas scientists advocated an almost pure protein product derived from the soybean, Andreas encouraged the development of textured vegetable protein, a 50 percent protein soy product that was far more economical to produce. His increasing power in the company (by 1968 he was chair of the executive committee) made his plans a reality. Andreas described his actions thus: 'One of the first things I did was to take the edible soy out of the lab and construct a plant in Decatur (Illinois) to make all the grades of edible soy protein in 1969.' He expected to exceed the plant's capacity by 1976. However, by 1973, with doubled production, the plant was already short of demand. Textured vegetable protein was widely used in foodstuffs, and soybean oil later became the number one food and cooking oil in use.
The company also sold its troublesome chemical properties to Ashland Oil & Refining Company for $35 million in 1967. That year, it acquired the Fleischmann Malting Company, which would become a very profitable producer of malts for the food and beverage industry. Andreas proved expert at maintaining a good profit margin on soybeans, too. Two or three cents shaved off costs made large differences on this item, which carried slender profit margins. Andreas's management rules of efficiency and profitability echoed the founders' practices.
With unprofitable operations sold, profitable ones newly acquired, and the increasing success of the soybean, the company entered another major area of operations. In 1971 it purchased Corn Sweeteners, Inc., producer of high-fructose syrups, glutens, oil, and caramel color. Corn Sweeteners brought good returns for Archer-Daniels-Midland and increased the company's finished-food capabilities.
Throughout the 1970s, the company built textured vegetable protein plants in Europe and South America. In addition, Dwayne Andreas brought several other members of his family into Archer-Daniels-Midland as the company expanded. (In fact, a 1988 treatment in Financial World characterized ADM as the Andreas 'family dynasty.') Three Andreas family members became heads of various divisions, although the company continued to retain one Archer and one Daniels in high-ranking positions into the 1990s.
From the net low of $50 million in earnings in 1965, net earnings were near $117 million in 1973. This increase paralleled the upward swing in U.S. soybean production and exports from 700 million bushels per day in 1965 to 1.3 billion in 1973.
That growth continued through the 1970s and into the 1980s. During this time, Archer-Daniels-Midland had several major subdivisions, the largest of which was the Oilseed Processing Division. In this division, soy products soon outstripped linseed and all others, earning Andreas the nickname 'Soybean King.' The next largest, the Corn Sweeteners Division, produced ethanol in addition to high-fructose products. In fact, the Decatur, Illinois, plant was the single largest source of ethanol in the United States. Archer-Daniels-Midland Milling Company processed the company's grains, and in 1986 the milling division became even larger when ADM entered into a grain marketing joint venture with Growmark Inc., a large Midwestern grain merchandising and river terminal cooperative. The venture was called ADM/Growmark.
Another division, the Columbian Peanut Company, acquired in 1981, produced oil and peanut products, and Archer-Daniels-Midland was the leading domestic peanut sheller. Gooch Foods, Inc., was the company's market name for a line of pasta products, which increased in demand after the advent of microwave pasta dishes. Other divisions of Archer-Daniels-Midland included Southern Cotton Oil Company, Fleischmann Malting Company, Inc., American River Transportation Company, Supreme Sugar Company, and the British Arkady Co., Ltd., which was a supplier of specialty products to the bakery industry.
1990s and Beyond
ADM made its first-ever foray into consumer food products with the characteristically low-profile launch of its Harvest Burger brand soy-based meat substitute in the early 1990s. The product's reduced fat, calories, and cholesterol attracted American consumers, many of whom sought out the product even before it had advertising support. In 1993 the Pillsbury Company assumed responsibility for supermarket retailing of Harvest Burgers. For the hungry of the world, the soy product was an inexpensive source of protein with a longer shelf life than traditional sources such as meat and milk. As CEO Andreas pointed out in a 1993 interview with Direct Marketing magazine, 'You can feed 20 times as many people off of an acre of land by raising soy alone, than growing soy and feeding it to an animal and then eating that animal.' Andreas called the development of the meatlike soy product 'the most important food development of this century.'
During the second half of the 1990s, ADM experienced significant growth, with revenues increasing from $12.56 billion to $16.11 billion from fiscal 1995 to fiscal 1998 before falling to $14.28 billion in 1999. Net earnings declined throughout this period, however, falling from the record level of $795.9 million in 1995 to $266 million in 1999. ADM blamed the declining results of the late 1990s largely on two coinciding phenomena: the Asian economic crisis, which later spread to Russia and Latin America, and record crop harvests. The economic downturn significantly dampened demand for protein and vegetable oils in the affected areas, while at the same time prices for farm commodities fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade.
The squeeze on profit margins led to increasing competition and consolidation in the food industry. Archer-Daniels-Midland was heavily involved in this consolidation and spent about $4.6 billion in the second half of the 1990s building new plants, expanding existing ones, and making numerous acquisitions. In mid-1997 ADM paid $470 million for the cocoa business of W.R. Grace & Co., thereby entering the chocolate and cocoa industry. The company quickly added six additional cocoa-processing plants purchased from E D & F Main Group PLC for $223 million. ADM organized these operations as its ADM Cocoa Division, which by the end of the 1990s was grinding 450,000 metric tons of cocoa beans per year, about 20 percent of the world crop. Also in 1997 the company acquired Quincy, Illinois-based soybean processor Moorman Manufacturing Co. for $296 million; purchased a 42 percent stake in United Grain Growers of Canada, a firm involved in grain merchandising and other agricultural activities; acquired a 30 percent stake in Minnesota Corn Processors, operator of wet corn milling plants in Minnesota and Nebraska; and spent $258 million for a 22 percent interest in Mexico-based Gruma S.A. de C.V., the world's largest producer and marketer of corn flour and tortillas. During this period ADM also formed a number of joint ventures, including International Malting Company, 40 percent owned by ADM and 60 percent by the LeSaffre Company, which operated barley malting plants in the United States, Australia, Canada, and France; ADM-Riceland Partnership, a 50-50 venture with Riceland Foods Inc., which processed rice and rice products; and a joint venture with Gruma, 40 percent owned by ADM, that operated seven wheat flour mills in Mexico. The most significant divestments during the later 1990s were those of Supreme Sugar and British Arkady.
Many of these deals occurred after G. Allen Andreas, nephew of Dwayne Andreas, was named CEO in April 1997. Allen Andreas's path to the top was cleared following the downfall of Michael D. Andreas, Dwayne's son and heir-apparent, in a highly publicized price-fixing scheme. The scheme first came to light in 1995 when Mark E. Whitacre, a whistleblower for the FBI, was fired by ADM from his position as head of its BioProducts division for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars from the company. Whitacre had been secretly acting as an informant to the FBI, providing the bureau with documentation, including audio- and videotapes, of alleged price-fixing schemes involving three products derived from corn: lysine, high-fructose corn syrup, and citric acid. At the center of the collusion were two top ADM executives: Vice-Chairman Michael Andreas and Terrance S. Wilson, head of the company's Corn Processing division. In late 1996, following guilty pleas by its partners in price fixing (including Ajinomoto Co. and Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, both of Japan), Archer-Daniels-Midland pleaded guilty to two counts of fixing prices for lysine, a hot-selling livestock feed additive, and for citric acid, and agreed to pay $100 million in fines, by far the largest criminal antitrust settlement in history. By late 1998 the company had paid nearly another $100 million to settle lawsuits brought by customers and investors. Whitacre in 1998 was sentenced to nine years in prison for swindling $9.5 million from ADM; the following year he was sentenced to an additional 20 months for his role in price-fixing at ADM (he had originally been given immunity in the price-fixing case but it was stripped after prosecutors learned of the embezzlement). Wilson retired from ADM in 1996 and Michael Andreas went on an indefinite leave of absence. They both were convicted by a federal jury of price fixing in 1998, and began serving two-year sentences in October 1999. In addition, they were each fined $350,000.
Archer-Daniels-Midland's legal difficulties were far from over. The company faced a number of class-action civil antitrust lawsuits, the largest of which involved purchasers of high-fructose corn syrup--including beverage giants PepsiCo, Inc., and the Coca-Cola Company--which could cost ADM and other defendants hundreds of millions of dollars. ADM was also the subject of government investigations in Europe and Mexico. At the end of the 20th century, Archer-Daniels-Midland faced the challenge of overcoming the huge amounts of negative publicity that had resulted from the various price-fixing probes and suits. It appeared that it would take years before the aura of scandal would be removed from the ADM name.
Principal Subsidiaries:ADM Agri-Industries Ltd. (Canada); ADM Europe BV (Netherlands); ADM Europoort BV (Netherlands); ADM/Growmark River Systems, Inc.; ADM Beteiligungs GmbH (Germany); ADM International Ltd. (U.K.); ADM Investor Services, Inc.; ADM Ireland Holdings Ltd.; ADM Milling Co.; ADM Oelmuhlen GmbH & Co. KG (Germany); ADM Ringaskiddy (Ireland); ADM Transportation Co.; ADMIC Investments NV (Netherlands Antilles); Agrinational Insurance Company; Agrinational Ltd. (Cayman Islands); Alfred C. Toepfer International (Germany; 50%); American River Transportation Co.; Ardanco, Inc. (Guam); Collingwood Grain, Inc.; Compagnie Industrielle Et Financiere (CIP) (Luxembourg; 42%); Consolidated Nutrition, L.C. (50%); Erith Oil Works Ltd. (U.K.); Fleischmann Malting Company, Inc.; Gruma S.A. de C.V. (Mexico; 22%); Hickory Point Bank & Trust Co.; Midland Stars, Inc.; Oelmuhle Hamburg AG (Germany; 95%); Premiere Agri Technologies Inc.; Tabor Grain Co.
Principal Divisions:ADM North American Oilseed Processing Division; ADM South American Oilseed Processing Division; ADM Cocoa Division; ADM BioProducts Division; ADM Animal Health and Nutrition Division; ADM Food Additives Division; ADM Nutraceutical Division; ADM Protein Specialties Division; ADM Transportation Division; ADM Research Division.
Principal Competitors:Ag Processing Inc; Agribrands International, Inc.; Ajinomoto Co., Inc.; The Andersons, Inc.; Bartlett and Company; Cargill, Incorporated; Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives; ConAgra, Inc.; ContiGroup Companies, Inc.; Corn Products International, Inc.; Eridania Beghin-Say; Farmland Industries, Inc.; GROWMARK Inc.; Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.; Riceland Foods, Inc.; The Scoular Company; Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated; Tate & Lyle PLC; Universal Corporation.
- Brinkman, Paul, 'ADM Execs Report to Federal Prison,' Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review, October 6, 1999.
- ------, 'ADM Focuses on Ethics in Wake of Price-Fixing Case,' Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review, July 11, 1999.
- Burton, Thomas M., et al., 'Corn Plot: Investigators Suspect a Global Conspiracy in Archer-Daniels Case,' Wall Street Journal, July 28, 1995, pp. A1+.
- Henkoff, Ronald, 'The ADM Tale Gets Even Stranger,' Fortune, May 13, 1996, pp. 113-14, 116, 118, 120.
- ------, 'Betrayal,' Fortune, February 3, 1997, pp. 82-85, 87.
- Kahn, E.J., Jr., Supermarketer to the World: The Story of Dwayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, New York: Warner, 1991, 320 p.
- Kilman, Scott, 'ADM Ex-Officials Get 2 Years in Jail in Sign of Tougher Antitrust Penalties,' Wall Street Journal, July 12, 1999, p. A4.
- ------, 'ADM Warns Grain Suppliers to Start Segregating Genetically Altered Crops,' Wall Street Journal, September 2, 1999, p. A2.
- ------, 'Jury Convicts Ex-Executives in ADM Case,' Wall Street Journal, September 18, 1998, p. A3.
- ------, 'Mark Whitacre Is Sentenced to 9 Years for Swindling $9.5 Million from ADM,' Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1998, p. B5.
- Kilman, Scott, and Thomas M. Burton, 'Three Ex-ADM Executives Are Indicted: Wilson, Michael Andreas, and Informant Whitacre Cited in Antitrust Case,' Wall Street Journal, December 4, 1996, p. A3.
- Kilman, Scott, Bruce Ingersoll, and Jill Abramson, 'Risk Averse: How Dwayne Andreas Rules Archer-Daniels by Hedging His Bets,' Wall Street Journal, October 27, 1995, pp. A1+.
- Lieber, James B., Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks of the 'Supermarket to the World,' Archer Daniels Midland, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1999.
- Melcher, Richard A., 'All Roads Lead to ADM,' Business Week, September 23, 1996, p. 42.
- ------, 'Into the Harsh Glare at Archer Daniels,' Business Week, October 23, 1995, pp. 34-35.
- Melcher, Richard A. Greg Burns, and Douglas Harbrecht, 'It Isn't Dwayne's World Anymore,' Business Week, November 18, 1996, pp. 82, 84.
- Neal, Mollie, 'Reaping the Rewards of Skillful Marketing While Helping Humanity,' Direct Marketing, September 1993, pp. 24-26.
- Noah, Timothy, 'EPA Came Through for Archer-Daniels-Midland Soon After Andreas's Role at Presidential Dinner,' Wall Street Journal, July 6, 1994, p. A20.
- Sachar, Laura, 'Top Seed,' Financial World, May 3, 1988, pp. 2-28.
- Upbin, Bruce, 'Vindication,' Forbes, November 17, 1997, pp. 52+.
- Whitacre, Mark, 'My Life As a Corporate Mole for the FBI,' Fortune, September 4, 1995, pp. 52+.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 32. St. James Press, 2000.