A WORD FROM OUR CEO
Our food system has been focused on producing calories at scale. Many have worked tirelessly to make this possible. But it’s time to move beyond what’s been possible to something better.
Better means innovating in partnership with nature to create healthier food options that are more sustainably produced and help to mitigate climate change.
Better means honoring what consumers are demanding. Driven by Millennials and Gen Z, 90% of U.S. consumers are looking for simple ingredients they recognize as healthier. 65% want their food to be functional, recognizing that food is health.
Yet, we’re still spending more on treatment for diet-related illnesses than food itself, while roughly 800 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition. Modern agriculture still consumes 70% of our fresh water supply and agriculture, forestry and land use change are among the largest contributors of greenhouse gases globally. We can do better.
Better means working together and re-thinking how we do business within our company, with our partners and across the supply chain. It means creating teams grounded in a spirit of diversity, equality and inclusion to think more innovatively, boldly and transparently. We’re committed to building a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. We do our best, when we’re at our best.
Our innovation platform brings AI, machine learning and data science together with biology, genomics and food science to unlock the vast and untapped natural genetic diversity of plants.
Soybean protein is our proving ground. Developing crop varieties with higher protein content means whole ingredients that eliminate processing steps, require less natural resource consumption and create new market opportunities for farmers.
Varieties with valuable attributes like high oleic oil or lower anti-nutrients mean healthier cooking oils, healthier animal feed and more sustainable farm management practices. All made better by the natural genetic potential of soybeans.
The plant-based protein market is an example of better in action. Meat alternatives are expected to reach $140 Billion in sales within the next ten years and manufacturers are working feverishly on options for dairy, eggs, condiments and more. Yet, these products remain dependent upon water and energy-intensive processing steps as well as additives such as sugar and salt to compensate for challenges of nutrition, taste and texture. Whole ingredients will empower manufacturers to deliver these products more simply and sustainably.
Plants hold the potential for food to be made from better.
Unlocking that potential is what we do.
OUR CONTRIBUTION TO BETTER
Until now, plant breeding has been time intensive and prohibitively expensive. That’s why focus has been limited to a handful of row crops and yield optimization often at the expense of nutrient content and flavor.
We’re accelerating breeding by taking hundreds of millions of genetic sequences and pinpointing the best chance of success in a fraction of the time using advanced tools like prediction and gene editing to unlock the untapped genetic potential that already exists in the plant. This is different from genetically modified, that relies on the introduction of foreign genes, because we use a plant’s own genome to identify and breed better varietals.
We’re bringing data science and cloud computing together with state-of-the-art genomic capabilities and food science to define a category we’re calling Cloud Biology® along with a platform called CropOS™ to make it actionable.
These capabilities, and a focus on holistic design thinking, allow us to change traditional thinking about product development and the supply chain. By connecting farmers, processors and manufacturers, retailers and consumers together in new ways around shared goals – we can benefit by intent, design and access.
By combining advances in biology and this inclusive approach, we can demonstrate responsible global citizenship and significant impact in alignment with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
The ability to bring farmers seed options optimized for nutrient expression and yield mean healthier soils and new sources of revenue. Seeds that are better from the beginning mean less water use in manufacturing and healthier, more affordable, great-tasting options for consumers.
This is food made from better.
SOYBEANS: THE PROVING GROUND FOR BETTER
Soybeans are a key ingredient in food production today and, with more than 84 million acres planted in the U.S. alone, soybeans are a major staple for farmers making this crop the ideal proving ground for better.
We are commercializing new varieties of conventional Non-GMO Project Verified, soybeans developed through predictive breeding capable of delivering improved nutrient density and valuable attributes along with strong on-farm performance.
These innovations enable environmental and social outcomes across the value chain for:
- Plant-based food companies: Increasing protein content reduces environmental impact by streamlining ingredient processing. This is made possible by eliminating the need for soy protein concentrate through the use of ultra-high protein whole plant ingredients.
- Livestock Producers: Lower anti-nutrient content improves animal digestive health and well-being while enabling more sustainable farm management practices such as reduced water maintenance in aquaculture.
- Consumers: Whole plant ingredients mean cleaner and more recognizable ingredient labels and healthier, more functional, and more sustainably produced food.
Through a closed-loop production system, we partner with farmers to grow these soybean varieties to meet these needs while using best management practices to improve the profitability of their farm operation with a more positive impact on the environment.
This creates new opportunities for farmers and less dependency on commodity markets while delivering better traceability for consumers from plant to plate.
Better also means increasing the diversity of crops in our food system for example yellow pea – a crop that is a key protein ingredient for plant-based meat alternatives and has received little genomic innovation to date.
Unlocking the genetic potential of yellow pea will bring additional advances in sustainable processing, nutrition and taste while reducing the need for masking agents such as sugar and salt which remain necessary and problematic for plant-based meat manufacturers.
Exploring the potential of a greater range of plants opens new doors for more whole ingredient options, increased consumer adoption and improved biodiversity.
Our work enables systemic change.
This is food made from better.
BUILDING BETTER FROM WITHIN: OUR COMMITMENT TO A CULTURE CENTERED ON PEOPLE
We do our best when we are at our best. The health, well-being and treatment of our employees, partners, farmers and customers is fundamental to achieving our mission to create a happier, healthier people and planet through food innovation.
Today, the success of a business is measured not just on its ability to be profitable, but on its impact and value to society.
Our new 160,000 square foot headquarters was designed with our culture of collaboration and well-being in mind. From gender neutral restrooms to open air meeting spaces, healthy food mini-marts and a hospital-grade air filtration system, we are working to make sure our physical facilities support employee wellness and contribute to our sustainability objectives.
Our goal is a workplace that’s not just productive but fun; one where everyone enjoys each other’s company, respects each other’s capabilities and genuinely looks forward to being together as a team.
Benson Hill is committed to a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion. We believe to do so is not only a fundamental human responsibility but contributes directly to the quality and speed of innovation and the business impact we drive across the food system.
As a company, we have three simple but fundamental values:
To be Bold is to be confident in the value you bring, the ideas you have and the capabilities you share. To be Inspired means to be open always to new ways of thinking and excited by the abundance of what’s possible when we work together. To be Real is to be yourself – no false pretenses. Just good people working alongside good people to make great things happen.
Through our internal communication channels and programs, we empower our employees to shape their own careers with a range of resources and tools to explore further education, engage in critical conversations and establish a community-based culture that maintains a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination of any kind.
People and community are fundamental to a more sustainable food system.
FROM WELL MEANING TO WELL MEASURED
While a commitment to the environment and social responsibility is core to our ethos, we recognize strategies and objectives are simply a first step.
We actively work to identify and measure quantifiable goals for our behavior as a company, the performance of our products and the impact we contribute on-farm, through the manufacturing process, and for the consumer.
As we commercialize our products, in-field measurements of their impact on health and sustainability will be a priority so we can continually improve and optimize. We are currently undertaking a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) to understand and quantify this impact with greater precision.
Environmental and social impact is inherent to our purpose and guides decisions and work across our company. In order to measure and accelerate our ongoing work on Impact, we have a highly experienced ESG team that will formalize our structure and focus in 2021.
With a depth of knowledge in food retail, distribution, agricultural production and government, the sustainability team is deeply passionate and committed to cultivating sustainability within the food system. The team will focus on advancing our strategy, policies and practices and will work to quantify our environmental, social impact and corporate governance efforts both within Benson Hill and in our work across the value chain.
Sustainability and ESG will make us better.
We’re excited to share this impact and engage our investors, our employees, our customers and their customers around a meaningful and measurable way toward a food system made from better.