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Driving Sustainable Mint Innovation from the Ground Up

Using plant science to innovate has been a cornerstone of A.M. Todd—the mint division of ADM’s flavors business—for over half a century. In fact, for more than 70 years, plant scientists have been working with mint farmers to ensure a thriving mint future by supporting responsible land management.

“In the 1950s, a fungal disease took over mint fields across the Midwest, attacking plants and preventing otherwise fertile ground from being used for mint cultivation,” said Tim Nemeth, ADM Mint Technical Manager. “Years ago, we had the foresight to invest in a robust plant science program to help create hearty plant varieties that were resistant to disease, as a way to preserve mint farming in the U.S.”

That spirit of innovation is still driving the business forward today. A team driven by Ph.D. scientists in biology, agronomy and genetics work together to develop proprietary, innovative mint plants that are sustainable, natural, and non-GMO, cost-advantaged, novel and industry-unique.

“We work with farmers and customers to achieve sustainable alternatives,” said Nemeth. “We want them to have the biggest yields and the highest quality crop, but to do so responsibly. Through our program, we’ve reduced fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating varieties that are resistant to disease and pests and competitive enough against invasive weeds.”

And how are we able to achieve this? A big part of the success story is our vertical integration, from the plant to the delivered final product. Accounting for up to 20% of the US peppermint market, our mint plants are sustainably sourced. Their resistance to disease drives responsible land management, meaning farmers require fewer precious resources to grow and harvest mint. ADM's mint varietals need far less water and fertilizer to produce a pound of oil than commercial mint varieties. Less resources required means farmers can use equipment less, which reduces the overall carbon footprint. In fact, plant science varieties contribute to 45% less CO2 from diesel fuel consumption.

“Resistance to pests and disease allows farmers to reclaim prime cropland infected with Verticillium wilt while, at the same time, reducing soil erosion by extending plantation life of their mint fields,” said Nemeth. “Every day, we work hand in hand with farmers to mitigate climate change and protect our natural resources. And of course, we’re trying to preserve mint farming in each growing district, and make sure that the generations to come will be able to enjoy our mint flavors.”