Biotechnology Company Benson Hill Acquires Soy Crushing Facility
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media
As demand for plant-based protein ingredients continues to grow, sustainable food tech innovator Benson Hill announced it has acquired a soybean crushing facility in Seymour, Indiana, from Rose Acre Farms, representing a major step toward materializing the company’s strategic growth plan.
Founded in 2012, Benson Hill leverages Cloud Biology®, or the combination of data science, machine learning, AI techniques, biology, and genomics, to unlock nature’s genetic diversity in plants to create innovative food and ingredient products.
The company manifests its seed-to-shelf innovation through CropOS™, its platform that uses predictive analytics to simulate tens of millions of genetic outcomes for plants, referencing an ever-expanding and unrivaled data library to make Cloud Biology® actionable.
This technology enables Benson Hill to accelerate and precisely develop more sustainable feed, food, and ingredient options years quicker than traditional crop breeding systems through an approach that decreases development costs, shortens time to market, meets consumer demand, and links the interests of both the growers and consumers.
In March 2020, Benson Hill announced its plans to release new ultra-high protein soybean varieties in 2021 that will be the first commercially available soybeans to effectively replace soy protein concentrate via traditional soybean crushing.
The launch of the varieties - which offer better digestibility, heart-healthy omega fatty acids, and higher protein that serve the plant-based food, healthy oils, animal feed and aquaculture markets were developed using traditional breeding methods, allowing non-GMO certification and unrestricted use in the U.S. and export markets such as the EU – will be conducted through the company’s Benson Hill Seeds division, launched in December 2019.
This achievement represents huge potential, as recent data cited by the company forecasts that the value of the global plant protein market has the potential to surpass $162 billion by 2030.
“The acquisition of the Rose Acre Farms soybean crushing facility represents an important next step in the execution of our playbook for growth,” said Bruce Bennett, president, Ingredients at Benson Hill.
“This targeted investment can ultimately provide the production capacity to deliver on our integrated business model for commercialization and scaling of our innovative soybean products, including Ultra-High Protein soybean ingredients.”
This facility will ultimately have the capacity to process Benson Hill’s proprietary soybean varieties, including the first commercial plantings of its Ultra-High Protein soybeans, which will be harvested this fall, after the company exceeded its target to double contracted soybean acres delivering a 133 percent year-on-year increase for the 2021 growing season.
“This milestone reflects continued momentum to advance our vision for a more modern, resilient and sustainable food system, starting with seed that is better from the beginning,” said Matt Crisp, CEO, Benson Hill. “Coupling production capacity like this with genomic innovation unlocks enormous value for both farmers and consumers beyond what has been possible through the traditional commodity system.”
Benson Hill first announced its partnership with Rose Acre Farms, the second largest egg producer in the U.S., in December 2020 as part of its goal to create a dedicated supply chain for its high-protein, high-oleic soybeans.
Headquartered in Indiana and with facilities in Arizona, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia, Rose Acre Farms began as a family chicken farm in the 1930s but has grown to become the second largest egg producer in the U.S., with customers that rank among the largest retail, food service, and industrial companies in the world.
“Rose Acre Farms remains committed to the local farming community, a value Benson Hill shares. We are excited to have found the right buyer for our soy processing assets in Benson Hill, a company with which we have a great history of partnership,” said Tony Wesner, COO, Rose Acre Farms. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Benson Hill and believe they will continue to be a valuable member of our community. We expect this transaction will result in value to our local farmers, particularly as opportunities for Benson Hill’s network of farmer partners continues to expand.”
The acquisition of the Rose Acre crushing plant follows only months after Benson Hill went public at a valuation of $2 billion via a merger with SPAC company Star Peak Corp II in May of this year.
This SPAC IPO generated $625 million in gross proceeds – including oversubscribed and upsized $225 million PIPE, with investment from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Van Eck Associates Corporation, Hedosophia, Lazard Asset Management, Post Holdings, existing Benson Hill investors and affiliates of Star Peak. However, Benson Hill stated that it will finance the acquisition of the Rose Acre facility through the expansion of its debt facility with Western Technology Investment.