Dwayne Andreas, who spent 27 years building Archer Daniels Midland Co. into the world’s largest processor of agricultural products and food giant, died Nov. 16 in Decatur, Ill. He was 98. Andreas' mastery of the global grain trade and powerful political savvy pushed ADM to the front ranks of American industry.
"We were deeply saddened to learn of Mr. Andreas’ passing," said Juan Luciano, current CEO of Chicago-based ADM, in a statement. "Under his many years of leadership, our company became a global leader in agricultural processing."
During Andreas’s tenure as CEO from 1970 to 1997, ADM promoted itself as the "supermarket to the world," a slogan meant to convey its reach, product range and customer base of corporations and nations. Andreas made ADM a leading producer of cooking oils and animal feed; ethanol, citric acid, used in many foods and high-fructose corn syrup, which by the mid-1980s, replaced sugar as the sweetener of choice for makers of processed food and soda.
The global enterprise he built has few equals. News reports mention that by the time Andreas retired, ADM had about 250 processing plants, about as many grain elevators and more than 2,000 barges to deliver its goods, according to a 1997 Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Revenue that year was $13.9 billion, with net income $377 million. In 1977, when Andreas was named chairman and CEO, it's said that ADM's soybean exports totaled $1.5 billion. Twenty-two years later, the figure reportedly grew to $7 billion, and the company was the biggest processor in the industry.
"The food business is far and away the most important business in the world," Andreas was quoted as saying. "Everything else is a luxury." He was his firm’s most powerful advocate, forging personal relationships with politicians.
The Andreas family dominated the company for four decades, starting in the mid-1960s when Dwyane and his brother, Lowell, sold their business to ADM. Lowell Andreas was an ADM board member and its president from 1968 to 1972. Dwayne’s son, Michael Andreas, rose become to vice chairman. His nephew, Martin Andreas, was a senior vice president who persuaded the board to add high-fructose corn syrup to its product roster. Another nephew, G. Allen Andreas, succeeded his uncle Dwayne as CEO.