Rabobank Banking for Food vision affects everyone

Will there be enough food in 2050 for every one of more than nine billion people in the world? How can businesses in the food chain double food production in a sustainable way? Rabobank wants to contribute to meeting this challenge, in and outside the Netherlands. The Rabobank vision is set out in Banking for Food.

‘If I were a bank with ambitions concerning the global food issue, I would ……’ Well, what …? What would you believe, as a bank? And what would you do, as a bank?

These questions, from the perspective of today’s younger generation, and Rabobank’s views on them were the central topics at the general meetings Rabobank held today (19 June). In these meetings, the Executive Board of Rabobank presented Banking for Food to an audience that included managing directors and supervisory directors of local Rabobanks in the Netherlands. The Banking for Food vision will be further developed into a strategy and an action plan, including specific goals, setting out the approach adopted by Rabobank, worldwide, throughout the entire chain, from the source to the serving on a consumer’s plate.

Daily food and drink

The key issues concerning agriculture and food are not just fundamental questions for Rabobank, which developed from its agricultural origins at the end of the 19th century into the leading bank in food & agri as which it is known today throughout the world.

‘It is relevant for everyone: for each of us, this is about our daily food and drink,’ says Berry Marttin, Member of the Executive Board of Rabobank. ‘The challenge for the world for the decades ahead is to produce twice as much food with only half the resources, which is the factor “4” in Banking for Food. The only way to do so is: to produce much more efficiently. Rabobank and the Netherlands must play a part in this. Because all over the world, many people see the Netherlands as the typical agri-business country.’ In various countries, including the Netherlands, the production and processing sectors for agriculture and food are major, comparatively stable sectors in the economy.

Four dimensions of food security

The production and availability of enough food for everyone are centred on four dimensions. These dimensions can reinforce each other, both positively and negatively. They are:

  • Increasing the availability of food. Major enablers in achieving this include greater efficiency in production and less wastage. Business succession in agricultural and horticultural businesses is another challenge.
  • Improving access to food. This involves providing financial resources and basic knowledge for entrepreneurs, which will drive an increase in net investments in agriculture and horticulture.
  • Promoting balanced, healthy nutrition. Food safety and health are key factors, as is the ecological footprint.
  • Increasing the stability in chains. It is necessary to reduce fluctuations in prices. This requires better coordination and cooperation within food production chains.

Responsibility of Rabobank

Rabobank wants to contribute to feeding the world on a more sustainable basis, by facilitating customers’ economic success and improving the vitality of the communities in which they operate. These ambitions will be further developed into a strategy and an action plan, with specific goals. Rabobank’s role within the global food issue centres on access to financing, access to knowledge and access to networks. ‘We can leverage our knowledge and networks to help resolve financing issues and advance the public debate,’ says Marttin.

In and outside the Netherlands

This ambition of Rabobank concerns agricultural and food production in and outside the Netherlands. ‘Within Rabobank’s loans outstanding of EUR 87 billion in agriculture and the food chain, almost half relate to food & agri businesses in the Netherlands,’ says Rien Nagel, member of the Executive Board of Rabobank. Rabobank has a strong position in the Dutch agro food chain, which in turn has an important position, with a pioneering role, in the worldwide food & agri sector.

The entire chain, from kitchen table to boardroom table

‘The key theme is: How do we make that chain more effective? And how can we support that in our role as a bank?’, says Jan van Nieuwenhuizen, a member of Rabobank’s Executive Board. ‘We have an integrated approach to the entire chain, from the wholesale customers who provide the inputs to the primary businesses in the Netherlands and abroad, to the processing industry and food retailers, many of which are wholesale customers.’

His fellow board member Marttin states that Rabobank is keen and able to contribute, in its role as bank, to helping to meet the global food challenge. ‘We deploy our financing policy, we contribute to the decisions in the chain, because we sit at both the kitchen table and the boardroom table. And we have the knowledge and the network. We want to use them.’ From Dutch Flanders to the Dutch province of Groningen, from Australia to Zambia.

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Our agricultural roots

Today's Rabobank traces its roots back to rural communities in the Netherlands in the late nineteenth century. Farmers and horticulturists needed credit to grow their businesses. Local credit cooperatives held savings in trust and used them to finance this credit.

Two strategic pillars

Rabobank has two strategic activities. As a bank, Rabobank seeks to support and strengthen retail and business customers in the Netherlands by offering a wide range of banking and financial services. And in parallel with this, at an international level (in and outside the Netherlands), Rabobank seeks in its role as a bank to support and strengthen customers who are active in agriculture and food chains. Rabobank’s ambition is to be the leading food & agri bank worldwide.


Feeding nine billion people requires a vision and solutions that do not stop at national borders, at the gate of a farm or the turnstiles of a supermarket. Banking for Food, Rabobank’s vision, accordingly encompasses all links in the food chains, in and outside the Netherlands: from farmers and horticulturists and their suppliers to businesses processing agricultural products and transport businesses and supermarket chains.