CHICAGO — Although social distancing has become the norm, Archer Daniels Midland Co. believes it is closer than ever to its customers.
“I think something good about this that I reflected on a lot is that during this period, we came to learn the company even better than we’ve known before,” Juan R. Luciano, president and chief executive officer, said during a May 13 presentation as part of the BMO Capital Markets Farm to Market Conference. “Now we know every raw material for 800 plants, the difficulties in each of those locations. … So I’m very encouraged at how much better we’re going to get out of this just by the true knowledge that we’re getting in the company.”
Mr. Luciano said ADM has shifted its focus from just trying to keep food and nutrition flowing through the pipelines to now planning for post-COVID-19 transitions.
“We are working on our protocols to reenter the workplace,” he said. “Of course, we have the benefit of being a global company. We’ve seen the evolution of the virus from East to West. So we have now the teams in China back in to work 100%. And we have used all those learnings, of course, to improve our protocols.”
He said ADM plans to be slow in reentering the workplace, pointing out that the company has been operating successfully for the past few months.
“We don’t want to lose the gains that we have made in that regard,” he said, adding that in some cases, some of ADM’s personnel will continue to work from home.
Mr. Luciano also said ADM is dedicating resources to analyzing a lot of consumer behaviors as regions of the world start to reopen and how consumers come back. Specifically, the company is interested in finding out more about what the mindset of consumers will be coming back to the new normal.
“We’re using technology to stay engaged with customers much more than before,” he said. “We are conducting, for example, virtual innovation sessions to work with our customers and making sure that all our pipelines of new products are not slowing down. And we continue to adjust to meet their changing needs. Of course, … demand is changing weekly as customers are trying to adapt and to make the shift from foodservice to retail, and whether you load or ship to this plant versus that other plant or whether that product mix is shifted. So we have been as close as ever with our customers.”
He said ADM will continue to advance its transformation to ensure the company remains even more competitive and more vital 10 years down the road.