2015 Conference: Chris Brett


Profitability, sustainability and risk

10-12 August 2015


Program & Presentations
Sir John Crawford Memorial Address
Conference Scholars


Mr Chris Brett
Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Olam International

Chris BrettChris Brett is the Senior Vice-President, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Olam International. Olam International is a leading agri-business operating from seed to shelf in 65 countries, supplying food and industrial raw materials to over13,600 customers worldwide. Their team of 23,000 employees has built a leadership position in many businesses including cocoa, coffee, cashew, rice and cotton.

Chris has global responsibility for guiding and supporting the business to further develop and integrate the environmental strategies, culture, tools and actions necessary for building end-to-end sustainable agricultural supply chains.

Being Engaged, Profitably and Sustainably, from Farmer to Market

Introduction to Olam International
Olam International is a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients, supplying various products across 16 platforms to over 12,300 customers worldwide. From a direct presence in more than 65 countries, with sourcing and processing in most major producing countries, Olam has built a global leadership position in many of its businesses, including Cashew, Spices & Vegetable Dehydrates, Cocoa, Coffee, Rice, Cotton and Wood Products. Headquartered in Singapore and listed on the SGX-ST on February 11, 2005, Olam currently ranks among the top 40 largest listed companies in Singapore in terms of market capitalization and is a component stock in the Straits Times Index (STI). More information on Olam can be found at www.olamgroup.com.

Working with farmers
The role of the small-holder in supplying national and international products is significant, particularly as populations and markets are continually increasing. In emerging economies many governments are now under resourced and direct support to small-holders has reduced; this has directly resulted in yield and quality decline and continual soil degradation. Olam, like others, is dependent on small-holder supply chains for many of the products within the businesses we operate.
In response, the role of the private sector in supply chains has progressively changed over the past 10 years, taking up the role of delivering extension based services to small-holder farmers so they can continually rise to the challenge of the growing markets. Olam has invested heavily in this role of supplying technical training support, inputs and finance to ensure our supply chains are continually developing through increased integration with our farmers to ensure these important supply chains are not put at risk. Olam’s model is to invest in processing units and then build the community farmer-based supply chains to keep that processing unit fully operational. The approach adopted is the development and roll out of the Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC), which is a development-based framework applying eight specific principles to build sustainable supply chains based on inclusive growth. Olam has a small-holder farmer supply base of 3.9 million of which 352,000 are now directly linked to Olam though the OLC. Olam wants to continually move our farmers into this recognised development framework, building thriving communities and increasing rural incomes, but this needs significant investment so there are scaling-up constraints.

Going forward
Delivering long-term sustainable supply chains will be based on multi-stakeholder collaboration. Investments are required in small-holder farmer development solutions, which follow a landscape approach, designed to promote production of all viable crops creating local food security and the sale of surplus food crop and cash crops into the national and international markets. This includes:

    • national land registry and tenure agreements;
    • demand-led research into localised varieties;
    • small-holder farmer access to applicable financial products, both in terms of loans and viable insurance products;
    • inclusive growth through the application of technology that will transparently link farmers to markets; and
    • donors and governments developing and applying new small-holder business models with the private sector; current examples are CocoaAction and donor/ private sector matching funding agreements.

The Sustainable Development Goals are agreed and will be introduced from January 1 2016. This is an opportunity for all partners to seek out new opportunities for collaboration and solutions to eliminate poverty and build viable economies. Olam will be directly supporting the implementation of Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Olam will be hosting a forum in April 2016 to bring together all partners—private sector, government, international donors, researchers and academics—to discuss this Goal and look for solutions in specially designed projects.
For further information on the Olam approach to developing sustainable supply chains, please follow this link: https://olamgroup.com/sustainability/.