Louis Dreyfus Company Global CEO Michael Gelchie speaks with guests Wednesday at LDC’s new soy liquid lecithin plant grand opening event in Claypool. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Louis Dreyfus Company Global CEO Michael Gelchie speaks with guests Wednesday at LDC’s new soy liquid lecithin plant grand opening event in Claypool. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Editor’s Note: This article chronicles a Wednesday morning visit by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski to a grand opening at the Louis Dreyfus Company facility near Claypool. Shortly after leaving the event, Walorski died in a quadruple-fatal traffic accident in Elkhart County. The Times-Union staff would like to offer sincere condolences to all those close to the congresswoman.

CLAYPOOL - Including a ribbon-cutting, speeches, a lunch and tours, Louis Dreyfus Company Agricultural Industries (LDC) announced Wednesday the opening of its new soy liquid lecithin plant in Claypool.

Gordon Russell, LDC’s regional head of grains and oilseeds, welcomed LDC’s customers, farmers, local community members and LDC employees to the grand opening event, after the official ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the hard hat area of the plant.

Second District U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski mentioned she was just reminiscing with some of the folks at the event. “I remember the day when this was nothing but green corn, green grass and there was nothing here. I remember the day. Then I remember when Louis Dreyfus came in and we had met them and started working with them and what a tremendous asset they’ve been to this community. And what a great day to be here today,” she said.

Walorski said they were celebrating a new era of growth for the Louis Dreyfus Company.

“The lecithin facility will continue to invest in Kosciusko County and it will expand the production of vital, safe products here in Indiana,” she said. “Every investment in American industry brings us closer to secure and resilient supply chains. Investments in agriculture, such as this new LDC facility, showcase Hoosiers’ unique ability to grow, harvest, process, deliver food products all over the world while providing jobs for Americans, best workers, and their families. It’s always a good day for our nation, and let me say this: Given what’s happening in our nation today, in the agricultural world as well as every other world, when there’s something like this happening and a reason to celebrate, it goes right to the ingenuity of the workers, the risk of the partner companies and I think it says despite what’s happening in this culture, and there’s a lot of bad news right now, out of Claypool, Indiana, is risen a model for the rest of the country to invest in, to celebrate and to be happy for today that there’s good news in a land of a lot of bad news and that’s why I wanted to come celebrate with you today.”

She continued, “This is not happening around the entire country, so let’s celebrate all of you who had a part or a shareholder in this great project. I can’t tell you how proud I am. This growth is also a testament to the excellence of the Hoosier workforce and industry. As you’re witnessing firsthand, this is a strong community that builds on success, and we’re thrilled to have LDC as a forward-thinking partner, especially given the global challenges right now.”

Walorski said expansion projects  of the size and scope of LDC’s are a collaborative effort from construction staff to drivers, engineers and farmers.

“Everyone who helped make this project a reality has played a role in building an even stronger community here in Claypool. Thank you to everyone for being here and your continued support of Hoosiers and Indiana industry. The country doesn’t know what they’re missing until they look at Indiana, so congratulations to all of you,” she concluded.

In his comments, LDC Global CEO Michael Gelchie said at LDC, “We continuously strive to unlock shared value for all supply chain stakeholders. Right here in Claypool, where we are committed to growing with the local community.”

He said he was pleased to be there to celebrate LDC’s new soy lecithin plant.

“Construction of this plant is aligned with LDC’s global strategy, which is to diversify into ingredients and the ingredients based with more value-added products,” he said. “Market trends and evolutions, and customer preferences toward plant-based products, are transforming the food and feed industry. Meanwhile, consumers are shifting toward the use of natural products, functional foods, nutraceutical products and personal care products.”

He said demand for these natural ingredients is also evolving fast. “And our research shows that global glycerine and lecithin sales have the potential to double by the end of this decade,” he said.

“I believe that LDC is well-positioned to meet the demand for high-quality food and feed grade lecithin, with this lecithin facility that we inaugurate here today,” Gelchie said.

He said the Claypool facility will have an annual capacity to process over 6,800 metric tons of soy lecithin, meeting the product attributes that customers increasingly desire for the use as an emulsifier and a disperging agent, and also as an antioxidant and a flavor enhancer in a wide variety of food applications.

“At this point, what do I see here today? I see a strong local operation that now combines our soy crushing, our biodiesel production, refined glycerin and lecithin production, as well as a home to food-grade packaging facility and a Canola oil distribution,” he said. “I’m proud that this makes Claypool the largest fully-integrated soybean processing and biodiesel, glycerin and now lecithin production facility in the United States.”

In a brief interview before the ceremony, Walorski said, “There’s nothing that can top this. We’re growing Hoosier jobs and we’re growing, we’re expanding at a time when the nation is in trouble with inflation. Agriculture is in trouble with lack of fertilizer, exorbitant prices everywhere. Having a hard time holding things together. Leave it to Claypool, Indiana, and Louis Dreyfus Company to launch a lecithin plant in the middle of nowhere and here we are celebrating. I think it speaks to the strength of Hoosier workers. I think it speaks to the strength of Louis Dreyfus, and the partnership we’ve been able to make over the years. We’re Hoosiers! This is what we do. We have tough workers and tough times and I think this is one of these great models for the country to say, ‘Hey, look at what they’re doing there!’ And it’s just hard work, innovation, entrepreneurship all together, along with the quality of the product that comes out of Louis Dreyfus.”

She said she’s been out here with Louis Dreyfus since they opened in Claypool as the company has always been in her district.

“I remember when they came out and they were making agreements with the local farmers and there was nothing out here but corn. And just how it’s evolved, it’s just a marvel for this area,” she said. “It’s so big. You can see it from a couple miles away coming from the north. And then coming from the south, where we just came from, it’s just like a monument to this strength of Hoosier workers, Hoosier ingenuity and a company like Dreyfus.”

To protect Louis Dreyfus and companies like it going forward, Walorski said, “The first thing I want to make sure doesn’t happen is that they don’t get netted into that 15% corporate income tax coming down from the Biden administration. The massive amount of inflation is not helping them, and so, you know what, despite the failures of the Biden administration on the economy, what’s happening, fuel, diesel, all those kind of things, no matter what’s happening, this company is resilient and I think we need to be celebrating resilient stories right now that have been successful despite this administration.”

Lunch for the event was provided by Noa Noa, with ice cream provided by Igloo.  There was a mixer with LDC commercial team members after lunch, as well as a few short planned tours.