Stay Informed
with these

Agri Marketing Update
e-newsletter sent each Monday and Thursday
Agri Marketing
Text Alerts

Big news as it breaks
@AgriMarketing on Twitter
Farm Show Guide
Marketing Services Guide

National Agri-Marketing Association
NAMA Website
Upcoming Events
Agri-Marketing Conf
Best of NAMA 2022

Farm-grown fashions have hit the runways across the globe, but not in the way you might expect. Sometimes unknowingly, consumers are becoming more in touch with agriculture, but not in the fields or in the classroom. Families are walking on a "field" of corn, but the "corn" is soft, lofty and stain-resistant. Agriculture is making its way to big cities, suburbs and homes throughout the world in the new products made with IngeoTM fibers, the first and only man-made, natural-based fiber made from 100 percent annually renewable resources - ordinary field corn.

Ingeo fibers, the revolutionary fibers from Cargill Dow LLC, Minnetonka, Minn., are the latest innovation to hit the consumer market. Apparel, bedding and carpet are setting the groundwork for a larger selection of fiber products that will be available in the near future and join the company's line of farm-grown packaging products being used in retail outlets worldwide.

The Product

Cargill Dow's mission, since its inception in 1997, is to change the world by not changing it at all - to lead a new industrial revolution, where limited natural resources like petroleum, are replaced with annually renewable ones such as corn.

"Ingeo fibers are leading the new industrial revolution," says Randy Howard, president and CEO, Cargill Dow LLC. "Ingeo fiber is positioned to transform the fibers and textiles industry because of its performance and our company's dedication to the principles of sustainability - economic viability, social responsibility and environmental soundness."

The process to create Ingeo harnesses the carbon naturally stored in plants from the process of photosynthesis and uses it as the basis to create a resin called PLA. This is achieved by tapping into the carbon stored in plant starches, which can be broken down into natural plant sugars. The carbon and other elements in these natural sugars are then used to make plastic through a process of simple fermentation and separation. The resulting resin can then be spun or otherwise processed into Ingeo for use in a wide range of textile applications.

Ingeo fiber is ideally suited for a range of textile products and applications, where it competes with traditional fibers on a price and performance basis. Imagine a building where, in every room, everything from the carpeting on the floor, the chair at the desk, the panels on the walls and the curtains at the windows are designed with a product that comes from Mother Nature. But, Ingeo fiber is more than a fiber or a new technology.

Unexpected Unveiling

Selam Mekonen, an artist from Eritrea, models Ingeo fabric at the product launch in Manhattan, held in January 2003. Ingeo is the world's first man-made fiber derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources.
Corn made its way to New York in the least likely way - on models wearing designs created by renowned fashion designer Oka Masako. In the cold of winter inside a discreet warehouse in New York City, Ingeo fibers were launched to the world. The inside of the warehouse was transformed to let those in attendance experience the launch of a product that is set to revolutionize the fibers industry, as well as bring a bit of the Midwest to the big city. Held on Jan. 21, 2003, the event drew more than 500 guests involved in textile, agriculture, business and media from around the globe.

"We wanted to tell the story of our company and the nature of our brand in one of the design capitals of the world," Howard says. "It was important that we relayed the revolutionary nature and future of the product without turning away from the roots of our company and the agricultural beginning of Ingeo fibers." The event was designed to create a memorable experience for the attendees along with a visual expression of the product and Ingeo brand.

Expected Response, Innovative Uses

Since the launch of Ingeo fibers, more than 100 leading brands, textile manufacturers and lifestyle partners have signed up to develop and market products with Ingeo
fibers, demonstrating the strength, power and attraction of the new brand concept, along with the promise of a more sustainable future.

"This fall consumers will be able to wrap themselves in a blanket that is grown in America," says Michael O'Brien, communications leader for Cargill Dow LLC. "Faribault Mills has developed a blanket made with Ingeo fibers. Consumers wrap themselves in the corn that may have grown in their fields."

Minnesota-based Faribault Mills, established in 1865, is a leader in high-quality blankets in the United States. The company, proud of their American heritage and known for expert craftsmanship, plans to use Ingeo fibers in their blankets. This provides a natural alternative for the market, and one that still provides the comfort, warmth and performance that their customers expect.

"Consumers can wrap themselves in American pride and tradition this winter," says Michael Harris, president, Faribault Woolen Mills. "Ingeo fibers have given us the chance to bring an all-natural blanket to market that is made from corn, one of our locally grown commodities."

Not only can you wrap yourself in a cornfield but you can also put one in your dining room or basement as well. InterfaceFLOR™ has debuted high-style modular floorcovering made from Ingeo fiber.

The modular floorcovering offers consumers, architects, designers, homebuilders and contractors an unprecedented opportunity to transform the look and feel of residential rooms to fit any season, mood or layout. The 19.5 square-inch tiles are designed to be less wasteful as individual tiles can be replaced as needed. Used tiles can also be sent back to InterfaceFLOR for recycling.

Consumers can also tuck themselves in to the comfort of corn. An environmentally friendly bedding collection, comprised of fiberfill made from Ingeo fibers and developed by Pacific Coast Feather Company and Cargill Dow LLC, is available at many major retailers, such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, Younkers, Carson Pirie Scott and is offered by Land's End. The bedding includes comforters, pillows, mattress pads and blankets filled with the new fiber.

"The bedding launched by Pacific Coast Feather Company was the first merchandise made with Cargill Dow's product to hit store shelves in the United States," O'Brien says.

Pacific Coast Feather Company plans to expand their line of bedding with more products and broader distribution.

The Future

The future possibilities of Ingeo fiber are endless. The fibers provide both the textile and design industries a natural-based product that performs while using renewable resources and promoting the role of agriculture.

"Companies like Cargill Dow and products like Ingeo fibers are making it possible to live a modern life without making a severe impact on our earth for future generations," O'Brien says. "We are committed to continued innovation and development of our products, to make a better tomorrow, today."

More information about these products and the company can be found at, or

  • InterfaceFLOR is a registered trademark of Interface Inc.
  • Ingeo and the Ingeo logo are trademarks of Cargill Dow LLC
  • NatureWorks and the NatureWorks logo are trademarks of Cargill Dow LLC

Corn-based Packaging Turns Retail Food Market On Its Ear
Global Retailers Reap the Benefits of Nature Works(TM) PLA

"Farm-grown" containers made entirely from corn are helping grocery retailers around the globe attract new attention from consumers to their fresh food offerings.

Through the use of containers made from corn-based NatureWorks™ PLA, grocery retailers are realizing new opportunities for product differentiation and marketing. In addition to a high-performance package, NatureWorks PLA provides a unique "natural-in-natural" point-of-sale appeal that draws shoppers' attention and loyalty to high-value departments such as the delicatessen, bakery and produce aisle.

"Fresh perimeter departments are ripe for building value via NatureWorks PLA. Natural-based packaging presents an opportunity to offer something fun and intriguing, and differentiate at the point-of-sale by promoting packaging as a selling feature," says Lisa Owen, commercial leader, rigid packaging, Cargill Dow LLC. "The idea of packaging from corn also seems to make the entire product offering seem 'new and improved.' "

Several grocery retailers are successfully using NatureWorks PLA to differentiate their products. In the United States, Wild Oats Markets has replaced its packaging with containers made from NatureWorks PLA. Produced by Wilkinson Manufacturing, Fort Calhoun, Neb., rigid containers and lids are currently being used for fruit, salads, cheese, desserts and other deli items. Wild Oats test-marketed the natural-based containers in its Portland, Ore.-area locations this summer and plans a national rollout to all 77 of its stores this fall.

"Customer response to this new packaging has been terrific," says Kurt Luttecke, Nature's/Wild Oats area director of operations. "Not only are these new containers 100 percent natural, they're as functional or better than the plastic tubs the industry uses as far as strength, clarity and sealing in the flavor and aroma of our deli products."

On the other side of the globe, Italian retailer IPER relies on NatureWorks PLA as a packaging material for its fresh deli products. Initially, IPER used rigid containers with film overlays made with NatureWorks PLA to package fresh pasta and salads. Positive consumer response and solid sales have encouraged IPER to expand its use of NatureWorks PLA to additional applications, such as bread bags.

"Switching to natural-based packaging is helping us bring new attention to our fresh foods," says Mario Spezia, sales director, IPER. "NatureWorks PLA offers a high-quality container that comes with a significant marketing opportunity due to its environmental appeal."

A recent study conducted by Grapentine Inc. revealed that a majority of consumers rank the concept of purchasing fresh food in natural-based packaging on par with two of grocery retail's highest-selling product trends - fresh herbs and spices, and organic meats and produce. In addition, these consumers are willing to pay extra per item if it is contained in a package derived from nature.

"The first thing people notice about packaging made from NatureWorks PLA is the performance," Owen says. "Once they find out it's made from corn, a renewable resource, they're hooked."

Jennifer Gray is a senior account executive for Gibbs & Soell Public Relations.

Search News & Articles

Proudly associated with:
SIIA AM&P Canadian Agri-food Marketers Alliance National Agri-Marketing Association
Agricultural Relations Council National Association of Farm Broadcasters Agricultural Communicators Network Livestock Publications Council
All content © 2023, Henderson Communications LLC. | User Agreement