Benson Hill acquires new facility to support production of value-added soy protein ingredients

CANADA – Benson Hill has acquired an established food-grade white flake and soy flour manufacturing operation to enable it to produce value-added soy protein ingredients.  

The ZFS Creston soy processing facility is located in southwest Iowa and was acquired for approximately US$102 million, as reported by Food Business News. 

To finance the acquisition Benson Hill has secured a US$100 million committed debt facility, with the potential to access an incremental US$20 million.  

The financing was led by Avenue Capital Group, which includes the Avenue Sustainable Solutions Fund, Avenue Venture Opportunities Fund, and other Avenue Global Funds. 

The Creston operation is equipped to produce soy meal and oil, as well as food-grade soy white flake, flour, and grits. 

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According to Benson Hill, the facility’s products can be marketed as ingredients or used as raw material for further production of concentrates, isolates, and textured protein products.    

The investment, therefore, fulfills a final step in Benson Hill’s ability to convert its proprietary soybeans into value-added soy protein ingredients. 

Benson Hill is confident that its value-added ingredients will help close the supply gap in the underserved human and pet food categories. 

“The acquisition of ZFS Creston, combined with our proprietary Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties, positions Benson Hill to deliver a portfolio of improved ingredients,” said Matt Crisp, chief executive officer of Benson Hill.  

“This acquisition advances our integrated business model as a more efficient route to market with a smaller footprint that better aligns with consumer preferences.” 

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Crisp further noted that ZFS Creston will enable the company to harness the genetic potential of plants and help scale the growth of plant-based markets. 

The company said the exploding demand for soy-based protein ingredients is outpacing supply, suggesting the need to build additional concentrate and isolate processing facilities.  

Additional capacity will however take massive investment, years to build and perpetuate a commodity-based, asset-heavy, siloed approach to food production. 

Acquiring the soy white flake capacity of Creston in lieu of building the capacity through Capex investment positions Benson Hill to immediately offer more sustainable ingredients within the broad human food market. 

“The Creston operation is expected to accelerate commercialization through the immediate ability to produce our ingredient portfolio,” said Bruce Bennett, president, Ingredients, at Benson Hill. 

Benson Hill notes that its technology and integrated approach increases protein expression in the soybean plant itself, so that the need for additional processing is reduced.  

Additionally, Capacity and capabilities acquired through ZFS Creston will enable the company to immediately deliver a portfolio of better-from-the-beginning non-GMO ingredients. 

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