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ADM Nutrition is helping to sustain a changing world

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Wellbeing requires sustenance, and nature’s hidden powers fuel that nourishment. For ADM Nutrition, unlocking nature’s secrets means leveraging scientific innovation to feed people and animals more effectively, sustainably, and tastefully to enrich lives.

The Chicago-headquartered parent, ADM, founded in 1902, is one of the most recognisable agricultural originations and processing companies in the world, and proud of its very long value chain. ADM is working with farmers, originating crops with around 450 crop procurement centres, managing supply risks and supply chain assets to move those crops to destinations of the world where there are deficits. Building on that the company processes commodities into primary and specialty ingredients operating more than 750 production facilities and has over 600 scientists in 60 innovation centres around the world to add value for customers.

As part of ADM’s strategy to constantly evolve and further extend their value chain, the company established “Nutrition” as a new business unit. ADM Nutrition provides value-add solutions like flavours, colours, pre-, pro- and post-biotics, specialty ingredients, and systems for food and beverage customers in the Human Nutrition space, farms, feed pre-mix, pet food, and treat customers in Animal Nutrition and sells ingredients for Health & Wellness products for both species.

“People need to eat and drink, and they all have different needs and tastes. ADM’s purpose is to ‘Unlock the Power of Nature to Enrich Quality of Life’. We source raw materials directly from farmers, and transport, process, refine and formulate those along the whole value chain to create added-value solutions for our customers.”

Driving future innovation, ADM is always looking ahead at trends and insights to translate it into opportunities for today. ADM recently published its view on 2021’s Top 5 Food Trends: “We believe it is going to be a year of accelerated innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition. The trends include: Pro-active nourishment of body and mind, Sustainability takes center stage, Microbiome as the gateway to wellness, Plant-based food expands ‘beyond the bun’ and Transparency building consumer trust.”

Over the last several years, ADM continued to make key strategic investments to secure their position at the cutting edge of today’s trends toward fortified foods, beverages, and supplements that enhance health and come from natural sources. As part of ADM’s commitment to enrich lives the company is conducting award-winning research on science-based microbiome solutions. By putting “friendly bacteria” into the gut bacteria it changes the way people feel. And it’s not pharmaceutical, it’s a natural product. While health products are traditionally brought to consumers through dietary supplements, with their expertise in flavours and finished product applications ADM is able to do that in the most appealing way, for example in form of a great tasting snacking bar or a refreshing beverage.

ADM Animal Nutrition offers a wide range of leading-edge products for the animal nutrition market. Known as a global leader in amino acids, ADM also offers, high-quality feed products, supplements, premixes, custom ingredient blends and specialty feed ingredients to aid in optimising animal health and nutrition goals.

One of the key trends in Animal Nutrition Pet Space to be noted would be the humanisation of the family pets. Pet owners are treating their pets as an equal part of the family with their own complex health & wellness needs that deserve to be managed with the same standards and care as their own human health and wellbeing.

With three offices across Australia and New Zealand, including their CCIC—Customer Creation & Innovation Centre—in Sydney and a product development & application lab in Auckland, ADM Nutrition meets the nutritional challenges of food and beverage manufacturers with innovative solutions for humans and animals with natural ingredients. From creating trendy flavours to developing cutting edge solutions to support health goals, ADM Nutrition is a trusted partner to manufacturers globally and throughout Asia-Pacific.

“We are a solution provider who offers the full range from single ingredient to complete systems for food and beverage customers, animal nutrition industry, and manufacturers of health and wellness products,” explained Attif Gharbi, Managing Director of ADM Nutrition Australia and New Zealand.

What does solution provider actually mean? For ADM Nutrition everything starts and ends with the customer. Many of the buzzwords like #agile #usercentricdevelopment #rapidprototyping we know from the fast-moving tech industry could describe the way #TeamADM works and innovates for and with customers. The team focuses on what the customer wants to achieve and goes all the way down to what it takes to make it work in the factory. All depending on what creates the most value for their customer. This goes way beyond a customer-supplier relationship. The Nutrition team talks to Marketing teams and owners describing their vision and passion, responsibles for New Product Development, to R&D on product and technical challenges, interact with purchase experts and supply chain contacts. This is ADM’s philosophy on creating value-add. And as the world is constantly changing ADM continues to evolve, develop the team, research new ingredients, improve processes, and invest in cutting edge technologies.

It is the taste of food and beverage products that connects to consumers physically and emotionally. Taste is and remains king. ADM’s flavour creation team and innovation centre in North Ryde, Sydney, is where flavour solutions are crafted to suit the taste of local consumer palates. This is also where new ideas for meeting taste, nutrition, health, and wellness needs of Australians and New Zealanders are created and developed. Whether it’s a flavour to evoke a specific consumer experience, an ingredient with a specific property to support a functional claim or the desired texture, plant-based proteins, sugar reduction solutions, or a complete formulated system to aid in the safe and effective execution of a product, ADM Nutrition is there to create the ideal customised solutions for their customers.

“When it comes to formulating complete systems, it’s quite technical because not every ingredient or ingredient combination is suitable for every type of finished product or stable in every type of processing and packaging. Over many years we’ve mastered the art and science of creating tasty products, that of course appeal to local palates, designed for the selected processing and packaging parameters chosen by our customers, while ensuring products that are stable on the shelf,” Gharbi explained.

Having insight into how market and consumers are evolving is a key part of the company’s efforts both globally and locally. Gharbi pointed to a recent local market category and consumer study to demonstrate how ADM Nutrition help customers understand the dynamics of the changing market and consumer landscape, and subsequently providing insight and solutions to expand the customers’ product portfolios. The goal is always to leverage consumer trends and insights and translate it into customer benefits.

ADM also provides much needed regulatory support to customers and with expansive knowledge of local and global food regulation “ADM helps to ensure that the ADM ingredients used in our customers’ products are permitted in the relevant market and are declared correctly,” he confirmed.

ADM Nutrition’s global purchasing team sources raw materials straight from origin and suppliers all around the world. While this sounds straight forward, working with products sourced from nature is always subject to availability, tied to harvest cycles and affected by natural disasters: hurricanes, monsoons, and alike.

“We constantly screen the market for availability and are in contact with all of the growers, manufacturers, and suppliers around the world. Our raw material category experts assess quality in the field, making sure the raw materials are sourced according to our customers’ specific recipe and the requirements of our manufacturing sites, which produce the products that our customers expect and consumers love.”

While the pandemic has yet to cause disruptions in origination of raw materials, transportation is another matter that has a major impact on the food supply chain. Overnight, the world’s shipping containers were in stasis as important trade routes through Asia came to a standstill with containers sitting in ports, and because of this not being available for the usual circulation of goods. The ADM global network kicked into high gear, working with global shipping firms to get containers moving, guaranteeing that all of ADM Nutrition’s schedules were kept without interruption.

When exporting countries reduced Amino Acid production and utilised inventory for their domestic market this delayed a product stream for animal farms in Australia and New Zealand. ADM’s local Animal Nutrition team has worked closely with customers and endeavoured to maintain supply by utilising the company’s global network and third party suppliers to continue to fill orders and ensure continuity of production for farms in ANZ. To support the local manufacturers the business held increased inventory to reduce the risk of delayed shipments at this present time.

“Our transportation partnerships have been built over many years and we were able to leverage this loyalty. We could secure enough reefer containers (refrigerated sea containers needed for food transportation) to ensure our customers will not experience any disruption in their production. This is just another example of our customer focused mindset, our dedication to add value and how the global network of expertise puts us in the position to provide solutions beyond the product,” Gharbi said.

You might say sourcing is an ADM Nutrition “superpower”, especially since every year—and sometimes, every season—has the potential for shortages in raw materials. “If you’re making a boutique drink that claims to be based on Ceylon tea, you must have tea of Ceylon origin and there’s only one region you can source it from, so you need to ensure continuous supply anticipating potential shortages,” he explained. “Raw material crises happen every year. ADM have multiple task forces, with all the experts from our team and our suppliers. Together, we always manage to find a solution.”

Sustainability is a key principle in how ADM operates. The company focuses on advancing sustainable agriculture, increasing food security, and investing in education of farmers. Running operations around the world the company has communicated their contribution to a more sustainable food supply chain in their Strive 35 commitment. The Strive 35 goals are to reduce ADM’s absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, energy intensity by 15%, water intensity by 10%, and achieve a 90% landfill diversion rate—all by 2035.

ADM believes in contributing to the greater good, creating lasting change through partnering with organisations to solve challenges. Through ADM Cares, the company helps sustain and strengthen communities by directing funding, volunteerism, and industry knowledge to organisations that are driving meaningful social, economic, and environmental progress worldwide.

Walking the talk

For everyone at #TeamADM, environment, health, and work safety are of highest priority. The company annually dedicates a whole week to education, workshops, ideation sessions, and many activities in more than 160 countries around the world. The team across ANZ organised a training on building resilience, extended their commitment to sustainability, did community clean-up walks, and celebrated their record of zero safety incidents at the workplace over three consecutive years.

Gharbi puts a lot of emphasis on people and culture, capabilities, and mindset. “A strong team is more than the sum of skills of the individual employees, especially in the solution business with a highly diversified supply chain. Success is a team effort with everybody contributing to the result. To really add value to our customers you need a highly engaged team and a positive work culture.”

ADM has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. The company believes authentic inclusion is about belonging and taking steps to help oneself and others feel that they belong. In doing that ADM creates the environment in which all colleagues are accepted and respected, which brings greater retention, increased satisfaction and improved well-being for the team. The company was recognised for their diversity & inclusion program.

Being part of the food supply chain for ANZ it was critical for the team to adjust ways of working and overcome the disruption brought by COVID in a safe way. Key focus throughout the pandemic was to ensure business continuity and food supply stable for ANZ.

One of the key challenges due to the pandemic was continue driving customer engagement, as having face-to-face discussions and product tastings with customers are foundational to the business model. With in-person tastings—a core approach to new product development— this suddenly became a health risk and impacted through subsequent restrictions due to COVID. ADM Nutrition immediately changed to virtual meetings and tastings.

Adapting new technologies fast has been one of the key enablers supporting the team’s continued success. Replacing the existing conferencing software and introducing a collaborative tool, the firm took a fun and engaging approach to using the new software. Replacing the existing conferencing software and introducing a collaborative tool, the firm took a fun and engaging approach to using the new software with cooking competitions, post your pet and other virtual activities. Gharbi explains, “We could hit two birds with one stone: keeping our team engagement high while everybody was adjusting to working from home and learning to use the software in a playful way and without the need for formal training.”

“Tasting is a very personal and obviously physical process. Our technologists develop a prototype of the finished product based on the customer’s brief. We translate a description, an idea into a product you can see, touch, smell, and taste, assess sensory like aroma and mouthfeel. All of a sudden we were not able to do that with our customers, and our business model was impacted at its core,” Gharbi said. As product development teams couldn’t access their laboratories and food and beverage manufacturers and retailers delayed product launches as a reaction to all the uncertainty the sales project inflow took a hit. “At the start, we used collaboration tools only internally to chat and to keep our teams happy and engaged. Our sales and technical team quickly  evolved to be very savvy with the tool and comfortable in leading our customers through virtual tastings, innovation sessions, and more. Now we’ve done numerous virtual customer interactions since the onset of COVID, our project inflow has recovered and we even participated in one of the industry’s first virtual exhibitions, from which we gained valuable leads.”

ADM is in the position to assess and keep track of global trends, learning from success stories in international markets and adapting it to ANZ’s local context, delivering inspiring, market relevant solutions to customers. At the same time, the team drives innovation for ANZ from within their CCIC in Sydney, breaking new frontiers to serve the Australian and New Zealand food and beverage, animal nutrition and health & wellness industry.

Gharbi and his team are committed to making ADM Nutrition the solution provider of choice to their customers in ANZ. “Our approach of global strengths with local expertise is what we’ve replicated around the world,” Gharbi concluded. “We leverage the benefits of a global company for our customers; what is important at the end of the day is that we understand the needs of the local market and deliver on that.”