Cargill Inc. has reportedly purchased the Blooming Prairie business of Arkema SA, the French chemical company to widen its reach in bio-alternatives to oil-based plastics. The Minnesota-based company will spend around USD 38.8 million on the epoxides business of Arkema, which turns soybean oil into a plasticizer that is used in various household goods.

For Cargill, the deal is the most recent inclusion to its bioindustrial business segment of three years, which looks for methods to utilize plant oils to replace fossil fuels.

Kurtis Miller, the Managing Director in the bioindustrial unit of Cargill, commented that industrial consumers are increasingly looking for petrochemical-free solutions, especially in customer applications where potential issues around sustainability and toxicity continue to grow.

For instance, Cargill entered into a joint venture with a Germany-based company in June. The venture was established to use corn as a replacement in a polymer that goes into products as different as athletic wear and paper cups. Also, in August, the company joined forces with PTT Global Chemical of Thailand to construct a biopolymer factory in Thailand for close to USD 600 million.

Cargill stated that it will retain the 45 employees at the Arkema facility in Blooming Prairie, which is around 75 miles south of Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Workers at the facility combine hydrogen peroxide with soybean oil along with other vegetable oils, creating a specialty oil called epoxide. Through this, Cargill will then make bio-based polyols and plasticizers that can be utilized in products ranging from foam in furniture to the liner of shower curtains.

With the Arkema business, Cargill, which is already a leading processor and purchaser of soybeans, will gain more control of the production chain for bio-alternatives, as stated by company executives. They predict that the company will eventually offer a wider range of bio-alternative products to consumers, mainly in the automotive, plastics, furniture, medical, as well as flooring industries.

The deal is one of many recently executed by Arkema, to reposition itself into the core business in acrylics and adhesives. The companies are aiming to close the deal by the end of the year.

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