WITH its cash reserves no longer required to fund its failed $3 billion takeover bid for GrainCorp, US grain and food ingredients giant Archer Daniels Midland's (ADM) has quickly diverted attention to investing in projects elsewhere around the globe.
In South America it has just announced plans to spend $US250 million building a soybean protein production complex in Campo Grande in the central western Brazil.
The sum is almost equivalent to ADM's November offer to put cash towards silo, rail and port infrastructure upgrades in eastern Australia (in partnership with governments and others) if it had been successful in winning the GrainCorp deal.
The new Brazilian plant will manufacture protein concentrates and isolates to complement ADM's current North American production and service food and beverage customers in South America.
ADM is already one of Brazil's largest agribusinesses with four soybean processing facilities supplying the Concordia and Corcovado oil brands.
With a Brazilian payroll of more than 4700, it also operates the country's largest biodiesel plant, four fertiliser blending facilities, a cocoa processing plant, a sugar cane processing facility producing ethanol, and more than 40 grain silo and port sites.
The new soybean ingredients will be marketed by ADM's Foods and Wellness group which supplies specialty ingredients for the beverage, meat, snack, bakery, cereal, wellness and personal care markets.
"We are making this investment to support our customers as they meet increasing consumer demand for protein," said ADM senior vice president and oilseeds business president Matt Jansen.
Last month ADM spent $US25 million on an equity investment in US private firm Rennovia which is developing chemical products using renewable feed stocks.
The bio-based chemicals are up to 25 per cent cheaper to produce than using petrochemical processes and are expected to see commercial-scale production by 2018.
Despite its controversial GrainCorp plans being scuttled by Canberra late last year, ADM continues to enjoy strong support from investors on the New York Stock Exchange, partly fuelled by the prospect of access to cheaper corn from a big US crop this year.
Its share price is up more than $US10 from the past year's lows to around $42 - just below recent highs of $US43.99 - giving the global enterprise a capitalisation worth of $US28b.
ADM retains a one-fifth stake in GrainCorp.