Archer Daniels Midland Essay

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The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is a multinational agribusiness. It engages in processing agricultural commodities on a global scale. It uses agricultural produce to make food ingredients, food additives, oils, and other products. Some of the ingredients are used for human consumption, while other ingredients are used as animal feed ingredients. Nutrients are manufactured into digestible foods for both animals and humans.

Agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland serve as a vital link between farmers and consumers. Many food products must either be preserved or processed into easily transportable commodities. Many agricultural commodities such as corn are bulky and costly to ship; transporting them in a processed form not only adds value but also serves to start the processing. The processing operations that ADM engages in create thousands of products from the crops produced by farmers all over the globe. Its product line includes a range of products from amino acids to sweeteners and from nutraceuticals (foods with presumed health benefits) to chocolate.

The company was founded in 1902 in the heartland of American agricultural production. It has always sought to work in partnership with the farming communities in locations where it has operations. Its business philosophy recognizes that healthy agricultural sectors in an economy are essential for the overall health of both the national and the global economy. It is currently headquartered in Decatur, Illinois. Since ADM was incorporated in 1923, it has expanded its business activities to include sales and distribution facilities in 40 U.S. states. It also manages a network of grain elevators.

In Canada ADM engages in transporting and processing cereals such as wheat, durum, or oil seeds like canola and sunflower. It has a number of facilities in locations as diverse as Medicine Hat in Alberta and Montreal. It also produces lecithin, malt, and animal feeds across Canada, along with chocolate from its cocoa bean processing facility in the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire and other locations.

Latin American operations in Mexico produce sweeteners, starch, and wheat flour. ADM also has a number of joint ventures in the cornmeal business. Central American plants include several that mill wheat and premix a variety of products. It also has soybean crushing plants and a string of elevators. In South America ADM processes cocoa and maintains storage operations. It also works to promote the production of soybeans and other grains. ADM has also been very active in opening trade with Cuba.

Pacific Rim facilities operated by ADM process cocoa beans and corn, premix feeds, mill wheat, and manufacture vegetable oil. It also packages vegetable oil and many other products across Asia as well as the Pacific Rim. Sales offices are operated in many Asian countries, and ADM has been engaged in developing business exchanges with Vietnam.

The European oilseed crushing operations of ADM are numerous and spread across the continent. It currently has a fermentation plant in Ireland. Cocoa for the production of chocolates is another major part of ADM’s European businesses. In the United Kingdom it operates flour mills. It also has meat and dairy alternative production plants.

The emerging biofuels industry is one of ADM’s growing business sectors. It engages in biofuel production in Germany. Sales offices are located in all of its principal markets. Gasohol is a mixture of ethanol (grain alcohol) made from corn. Its use has been mandated by governments in a move to reduce dependence on foreign oil. The move has been profitable for ADM and other agribusinesses, but increased the price of corn for many individual consumers.

In mid-1995 ADM was prosecuted for price fixing. Two of its executives served short prison terms for their part, resulting in two sensationalist books about the affair.


  1. Archer Daniels Midland Company, Nature of What’s to Come: A Century of Innovation (Archer Daniels Midland, 2002);
  2. James Bovard, Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare (Cato Institute, 1995);
  3. J. Kahn, Supermarketer to the World: The Story of Dwayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (Warner Books, 1991);
  4. James B. Lieber, Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks of the “Supermarket to the World” (Basic Books, 2000);
  5. Robert Rubovits, Archer Daniels Midland: A Report on the Company’s Environmental Policies and Practices (Council on Economic Priorities, Corporate Environmental Data Clearinghouse, 1991).

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