Cargill acquires full ownership of NatureWorks L.L.C.

by Eric Schroeder
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MINNEAPOLIS — Cargill on July 1 said it will assume full ownership of its joint venture company NatureWorks L.L.C., the maker of Ingeo bio-based plastics and resins derived from annually renewable resources. NatureWorks had operated as a 50-50 Cargill-Teijin joint venture since October 2007.

NatureWorks was the first biopolymers business with commercial scale for Teijin, but the company decided to give up its stake in the joint venture as part of its general portfolio restructuring in response to the global economic downturn.

Cargill said the ownership transfer will not affect day-to-day operations at NatureWorks and indicated its new status as a wholly-owned Cargill entity should provide the company with the flexibility to pursue a range of opportunities.

"We like our position right now," said Marc Verbruggen, chief executive officer at NatureWorks. "While the economic downturn slowed sales growth, we still show growth, which can’t be said of many conventional materials today. Sales have notably rebounded since January — a clear demonstration that the Ingeo product traits and environmental advantages are important to customers, even in times of lower oil prices."

Paul Conway, senior vice-president for Cargill, added that NatureWorks is well established with a broad product and customer base.

"While others put up pilot plants, NatureWorks has been commercial for six years, is increasing Ingeo production availability at its first facility and exploring possibilities for a second plant," he said. "We’ve rounded the first turn while others are at the starting gate."

Ingeo fibers and plastics are used by more than 100 leading brands and retailers in the United States, Europe and Asia. Product innovations in broad plastics applications include flexible and rigid fresh food packaging, durable consumer articles, beverage packaging, and in fibers: apparel, home textile, personal care and hygiene applications.

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