Improving sustainability in agriculture and food supply chains

Animal welfare, environmental protection and responsible natural resource management: all three are essential if we are to continue producing enough food in the future for a rapidly growing global population. As an international bank with a leading position in food and agribusiness, Rabobank contributes to help make both agriculture and food production more sustainable – in ways that benefit the economy, environment and society.

The global population is expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050. Concurrent with this trend, large numbers of people will see their disposable income double during this time. Global food production will need to increase by at least 60% to meet the growing demand for food. At the same time, land and natural resources such as water and food will become even scarcer commodities than they are at present.

Increasing output – with less land and fewer resources

Agricultural companies and food chains, in other words, will need to increase their output, but with access to fewer natural resources and with respect for both human and animal welfare. Rabobank supports its customers in taking on this challenge by providing access to finance and to its expertise and networks. ‘Banking for Food’ is Rabobank’s vision on global food security and the bank’s role in this.

Added value for our customers

How do we use the valuable insights and knowledge we have gained from these global initiatives to add real value for the customer – who may be anyone from a wheat grower in California to a supermarket chain in Brazil to a dairy farmer in New Zealand to a Dutch potato processing company?

Sustainability drives all the services we provide to our customers in the agricultural sector and across the food supply chain as a whole, ‘from seed to eat’. Rabobank provides its customers with the following services:

  • Access to finance. Any type of production requires capital. Rabobank has set a number of sustainability criteria that customers must comply with in order to be eligible to receive financing. The bank increases these minimum requirements intermittently, based on new developments and advances in knowledge worldwide. Customers who exceed these minimum requirements and actually integrate sustainability into their strategies and business operations have consistently proved to be successful in capitalising on opportunities. They become stronger companies with improved risk profiles. With its focus on the long term, Rabobank is a stable financial services provider for its customers.
  • Access to knowledge. Rabobank’s customers worldwide operating in the agricultural and food production industries value the bank for its technical expertise in agriculture and food production and knowledge of how supply chains and markets operate. We permanently invest in knowledge of, and research into, the economic aspects of food production and how to improve its sustainability.
    We also invest in improving our people’s skills and raising their awareness. We share our knowledge with customers through presentations, customer meetings, publications and various classes and seminars.
  • Access to networks. We bring together businesses and other partners in value chains and establish links between chains for various products. We use our ties to international policymakers, universities and research institutions to assist our customers and accelerate change.

A player on the international stage

Rabobank is an active participant worldwide in various Round Tables to improve the sustainability of ten agricultural production chains. The members of these Round Tables – including producers, customers, social groups and scientists – meet regularly to discuss the standards for the sustainable production of commodities such as meat, palm oil and seafood. Rabobank’s contribution to international committees and policy groups is based in part on the practical experiences and insights of our Rabobank customers, specifically innovative food and agricultural producers. Rabobank gives farmers and other rural entrepreneurs a voice in these committees and other bodies. One example is the F20 Food Summit, which the bank hosts ahead of the G20 summit of world leaders.

Priorities

Rabobank places priority on increasing the sustainability of the agricultural value chains for:

Rabobank takes part in roundtable conferences and similar initiatives within these chains that are aimed at accelerating their sustainability. In addition, Rabobank works with clients to integrate the outcomes of these dialogues into their operations successfully from a business perspective.

Inspirational sustainability projects

Rabobank has been working with innovative customers and social partners on developing various ambitious sustainability projects which have the potential to inspire other businesses.

Current initiatives include a project for sustainable salmon farming in Chile organised in conjunction with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and, in association with dairy company FrieslandCampina, a project to promote biodiversity and sustainable dairy farming in the Netherlands.

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