Driving Innovation in food economy


We find out that Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world so we get insights into the food and beverage marketplace from Murat Tarakçıoğlu who is the Managing Director of Cargill Foods Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.

Cargill gets together with farmers, customers, governments and communities and help people thrive by applying their industry insights and 150 years of experience.

The organisation has 150,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities with connected resources, local expertise and unique products and services in the food and beverage marketplace. Murat tells Shereen Shabnam more about Cargill and their activities in the region.

How would you define sustainability in the food economy industry?

At Cargill we see ourselves as a responsible steward of natural resources, committed to managing our supply chains responsibly, which is essential for both Cargill’s and our customers’ success. Our continued growth depends on cooperating with others to build a food system that meets the needs of today while providing for the needs of tomorrow.

In light of this approach, almost two years ago, we began developing a new sustainability roadmap for Cargill, both broadening our vision and focusing on four specific areas where we believe we can make a strong, positive impact. We are leveraging our unique expertise and global scale to drive positive change, with a focus on four areas: land, water, climate change and farmer livelihoods.

How exactly is sustainability affecting the food economy?

Unfortunately, today about 800 million people are undernourished and the world’s need for food and feed, which requires clean water, soil and air, will undoubtedly continue to increase. On the other hand, while the world’s population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, diets are shifting as incomes rise and consumers want greater assurances about how their food is produced. As a consequence, food and agriculture companies have to ensure their operations and supply chains are sustainable and responsible. But we must do this without compromising our collective ability to nourish future generations. So for a supply chain to be truly responsible and sustainable, it must produce safe and wholesome food, promote best practices in sustainable agriculture, reduce environmental impacts and conserve natural resources for future generations, respect people and human rights and treat animals humanely.

At what levels of food economy can sustainability be integrated?

It is clear that there has to be a commonsense and mutual effort across the food industry. We need catalysts for change but individual initiatives and efforts are only effective to a certain extent. In order to enhance positive impact and ensure the sustainability efforts are themselves “sustainable”, collaboration and cooperation are necessary. As a global leader in food and agriculture, we work with a variety of stakeholders to tackle various complex challenges. These stakeholders who can help discover and implement effective solutions include business partners, governments, non-governmental organizations, local communities and academic experts. It is the industry’s duty to model responsible, sustainable practices in their operations and supply chains while encouraging others to do so.

What are the challenges of integrating sustainability in food economy?

To start with, we recognize the growing complexity of the marketplace, increasing constraints on natural resources and rising consumer expectations. In that sense, sustainability certainly adds complexity but we should keep in mind that challenges often present opportunities.

Each and every player in the food sector needs to lean into the sustainability challenge. Most of the stakeholders want to know and learn more about our extensive supply chains to mitigate corporate and brand risk, find opportunities for cost reduction or use sustainability as a potential platform for growth. But unfortunately, since many organizations fall short of quantifying a return on investment, sustainability investments often struggle to gain traction. That is why the sustainability advantage needs to be very well-defined.

In addition, it is clear that nobody can do this work alone. So the trust-based partnerships across the supply chains needed among stakeholders like suppliers, customers, NGOs, governments, civil society, other companies, consumers and of course farmers. “Trust” is the key word here because it will require all of us to work together in good faith, believing that everyone has the same goal, which is to nourish the world’s people while protecting the planet.

What is your sustainability approach?

We address changing market dynamics and drive innovation. Our customers and communities trust Cargill for solutions that will nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way – not only for now but also for future generations. In addition to being fully aware of the fact that we have a responsibility to address sustainability in our business and across our supply chains, we are also optimistic about the world’s ability to sustainably feed itself in a manner that is not complacent about the future.

In that respect, we not only embrace the call for greater transparency and build trust but also try to be more open in explaining what we do and how we do it, while working to help bridge the gap between producers and consumers to develop practical solutions. We lead the way in learning to do more with less and we will continue to encourage best practices in land use, production and farmer training. Our efforts in sustainability needs to stay focused on improving earnings, efficiency and execution for everyone involved. In addition, the agricultural industry is ripe for innovation, improved technology and further implementation of best practices. Hence, we should accelerateinnovation. We need to think about sustainability on a global scale and focus on scalable and impactful solutions.

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