Cargill looking to the future after acquisition of BP’s Arkema

Published 6:12 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

With the announcement in September that Cargill was acquiring Blooming Prairie’s Arkema, comes a focused eye to the future.

The acquisition’s announcement was made on Sept. 27 and when completed will come at a price tag of $38.8 million, with a hope the sale will be completed late fourth quarter, around late November, early December.

In an interview Thursday with Kurtis Miller, global managing director for Cargill’s Industrial Business, he stressed that Arkema’s acquisition is a step forward for both entities.

“The big thing I think we will do at Blooming Prairie is the reason we bought the business. It’s not just to maintain, it’s really to grow the business,” Miller said. “I think we can increase capacity and allow us to grow.”

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What made Arkema attractive to Cargill is that the BP plant specializes in epoxidized vegetable oils for use in a large amount of bio-based plasticizers and polyols used in everything from shower curtain liners, tiles to carpets and furniture.

Miller said that Cargill has been looking for alternatives like what Arkema offers for about 15 years and when the acquisition is completed will represent the only Cargill plant that specializes in epoxidation, lending a security to Blooming Prairie.

“We don’t epoxide anywhere else,” Miller said. “We need this plant and this team. I was very impressed by the team and that happens when you go to small town Minnesota. I was expecting a good team, we got a great team.”

With a continued eye toward growth, Cargill will push to further bond a relationship with area farmers that Miller said should help both areas grow.

“The way we look at it, the more ag products we can move into the industrial space that helps everybody,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to market soybeans both in the food and industrial space. It’s always good to expand the market.”

Another benefit and something that attracted Cargill to epoxidation and Arkema is how environmentally safe the process and products are. It’s a nature-driven process that will act as an alternative to petroleum based additives.

“It’s great for the environment,” Miller said. “It’s pro-environment and it’s a pro from the standpoint of a renewable source..”

Cargill will also seek to continue working with Blooming Prairie and surrounding communities in avenues of education, particularly STEM education.

It’s a way to not only support the community, but help provide engineers and chemists for the future. It’s self-sustaining in its own right.

“One of the fundamental things  we do is support the communities around education and specifically STEM,” Miller said. “We’re actually looking for opportunities to get great engineers and chemical operators in all of our plants.”

In the immediate future, as Cargill takes over, Miller said people won’t see much change. For the immediate future, as the company works through its acquisition plan, there will be a focus on maintaining production.

But as time moves forward, Cargill will begin looking at how it can and will expand and continue its growth-minded goals. At the same time, it’s important that the community sees that as well.

“That’s exactly what I want to do,” Miller said. “(People) see automatically that we are looking to grow and we can feel it. I think the proof is when we show up and the demand shows up.”