Why Banking for Food comes naturally to Rabobank

Banking for Food is Rabobank’s vision on agriculture and food for over nine billion people in 2050. Why is Rabobank engaged in this field in its role as bank, in and outside the Netherlands? This is deeply engrained in the bank’s ambition and origins. The bank knows food and agri inside out.

The world of agriculture and food is facing huge challenges. One of the tasks Rabobank sets itself is to contribute to feeding the world on a more sustainable basis, by facilitating the economic success and growth of customers and the communities in which they operate.

In many countries, Rabobank is already engaging in activities that match this ambition. An ambition for which a cohesive vision is set out in Banking for Food. And that is not all: we are working on a more detailed vision, a strategy and an action plan.

We aspire to this position to be able, for instance, to provide financing and support to more farmers and horticulturists worldwide to enable them to produce more, more efficient and more sustainably. But we also aim to strengthen food chains by optimisation and financing, by taking part in initiatives for sustainable food security, by stimulating public debate and by contributing to the innovation financing that is necessary.

Roots in agriculture

Why is Rabobank doing this? Rabo is a bank, isn’t it? Exactly! A bank that has its origins in agriculture. Nowadays Rabobank has a strong market position in food and agri, in the Netherlands as well as internationally.

Let’s go back in time for a moment: in the 1880s, agricultural credit cooperatives arose in German rural areas to meet the borrowing requirements of local farmers, many of whom were poor. These associations provided loans to members from savings sourced locally. Friedrich-Wilhelm Raiffeisen’s idea for credit cooperatives gained a following in the Netherlands as well. The first agricultural cooperative banks arose in the Netherlands after 1895, to support farmers and horticulturalists in developing their businesses.

At home in the sector

Rabobank is completely at home in the sector and has stood side by side with its customers through thick and thin. After all, the development of crops, livestock, food and agricultural businesses takes place and took place in all kinds of climate imaginable. Droughts and floods, cold and heat, high and low prices, all forms of adversity and good fortune known to man. Natural occurrences and unpredictability that ultimately have an impact on the production, demand, availability and prices of agricultural products and food, and therefore on the income and investments of businesses.

EUR 92.3 billion in loans in food and agri

Today, Rabobank has around EUR 92.3 billion outstanding in loans to businesses in agriculture and the food chain. Almost half of this total relates to the Netherlands, the other (largest) half relates to food and agri customers outside the Netherlands. DLL, Rabobank’s leasing operation, has a substantial lease portfolio in food and agri. In Africa, Rabo Development has alliances with banks that play an important part in their country in the development of agriculture. And in Africa and Asia, Rabobank Foundation supports the development of food production for people’s own families towards production for the market, for instance by means of microcredit.

Banking4Food facts and figures

In the Netherlands and abroad

Rabobank is rooted in the Netherlands and has a large network in the agricultural business, research and education sectors. Rabobank has played an important role in the development of Dutch agriculture and horticulture, both of the businesses in the Netherlands itself and of its strong international position.

The Netherlands is a small country, but it has an excellent reputation in the field of agriculture and food production. The Netherlands is considered to be one of the most productive and most efficient food producers in the world and often takes the lead in innovation. The Netherlands is among the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products and a leader in food quality. Rabobank knows the networks in and outside the Netherlands. In fact: it is part of them, one of the partners in the chain. Rabobank has its own researchers in the fields of markets, pricing and economic developments for products and sectors in agriculture and horticulture and food chains. 

Scope for entrepreneurial drive and initiative

The food and agri portfolio is also important for Rabobank as a bank. Compared to other sectors, agriculture and food offer good long-term risk-return ratios.

The challenges up to 2050 are in line with that scenario. It is important and beneficial for the businesses and employees in the agricultural and food chains that there are more mouths to feed. And the challenge is to do so more efficiently and more sustainably. Therefore there is scope for entrepreneurial drive and initiative, there will always be demand for food, and innovation is a key requirement.

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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.