ST. LOUIS — Benson Hill announced Oct. 31 the development of novel, proprietary soybean varieties specifically for the pet food and animal feed markets. The “breakthrough soybean varieties” offer value-added attributes and are expected to complement the company’s human food ingredient portfolio, as well as diversify the business and advance industry collaboration.

The soybean varieties were developed through Benson Hill’s proprietary CropOS® platform, a germplasm and innovation engine leveraging AI and data insights. The company conducted external analyses of the varieties to determine three key value-adds that will benefit the broadacre animal feed and pet food industries.

First and foremost, the new soybean varieties are Ultra-High Protein low oligosaccharide (UHP-LO), which offers cost reduction benefits for producers while also meeting demand for high-protein feed formulations. The varieties also carry fewer anti-nutritional components, which aims to support digestive health, and offer an improved amino acid profile, which reduces processors’ needs to add synthetic amino acids to a feed, according to Benson Hill.

The company plans to build on its UHP-LO soybean offerings over the next two to three years, adding herbicide-tolerant and second-generation seed varieties. Supplementary studies will be conducted once the 2023 crop is harvested. Benson Hill will work with industry partners to validate the efficacy and expand potential applications of its new soybean ingredients through feeding trials.

“We are engaged in discussions with potential partners to scale our current proprietary portfolio and product pipeline for large-acre US animal feed and pet food markets,” said Adrienne (Deanie) Elsner, chief executive officer of Benson Hill. “I am excited about the opportunities to leverage the core strengths of the business for long-term value creation.”

The board of directors at Benson Hill recently appointed Elsner to the CEO position permanently, effective immediately. Elsner had been serving as interim CEO since June.

“In her first few months as Interim CEO of Benson Hill, Deanie has demonstrated a keen understanding of the market complexities and has uncovered ways to leverage the strength of CropOS and the company’s unparalleled innovation pipeline,” said Dan Jacobi, chairman of the Benson Hill board of directors. “We appreciate her willingness and enthusiasm to lead the company on this journey, and the board has every confidence that Deanie is the right person to take Benson Hill into its next phase of growth and keep the company on solid financial footing.”

Benson Hill’s soybean portfolio expansion is part and parcel of a strategic financial overhaul at the company, through which it is seeking to enhance its capital efficiency, further shape the business, and build on its liquidity.

The strategy involves divesting the company’s processing facilities, including a soy crush facility in Seymour, Ind., which will reap $36 million in proceeds for Benson Hill. This new capital will go toward funding the company’s proprietary product pipeline, as well as providing 12 months of liquidity to settle the company’s high-cost debt.

The company is also aiming to reduce its operating expenses by $33 million in 2024, which will help it realize savings and better focus its capital expenditures.

“Benson Hill has the agility to persevere,” Elsner said. “Based on our ongoing strategic review, we believe the strengthening of our financial foundation, moving to an asset-light business model, and introducing our innovations into attractive broader end markets, is the most feasible path forward for Benson Hill. Through the actions we have taken and are continuing to implement, we are poised to deliver significant value as a leader in AI-driven proprietary seed innovation.

“We are already making progress on our strategic path,” she added. “With the expected divestiture of our processing facilities, we plan to retire high-cost debt and extend our liquidity by more than 12 months.”

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