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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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At Org’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, 40 Food Cos. Declare, “There is no Future Without Sustainable Agriculture”

May 16, 2012 |

News Release – At the 10th anniversary of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, 40 leading global food conglomerates engaged in a fruitful and lively discussion regarding the environmental, economic and social well-being issues of agriculture.

During his opening address, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the Chairman of Nestlé, co-founder of SAI Platform stated, “There is no future without sustainable agriculture. By 2050, we have to feed 9.3 billion people. Water is the most critical issue. By 2030, the demand for water is forecast to be 50% higher than today, and withdrawals could exceed natural renewal by over 60%. With more than two-thirds of the world’s water being withdrawn by agriculture, food security is at stake. In order to feed the growing population, we must solve the world’s water crisis.”

Hans Jöhr, the Corporate Head of Agriculture of Nestlé and the Honorary President of SAI Platform, stated, “When SAI Platform was founded ten years ago, the topic of how to deal with natural resources was the exclusive domain of activist NGOs. Now, after ten years, food processors and farmers are collectively working to redesign the whole food value chain to make it sustainable. With more stakeholders entering the debate, the biggest risk is non-alignment regarding the topic. A big responsibility of SAI Platform is to raise our voice and educate policy makers as well as citizens regarding the critical issues. Sustainable production alone cannot solve our problems. It has to be combined with sustainable consumption. This requires a collective effort.”

The SAI Platform will stay true to its mission by acting as the global reference centre for sustainable agriculture in the food and drink industries, encouraging companies to form pre-competitive partnerships and sharing best practices. Dr. Rhona Applebaum, the Vice President and Chief Scientific and Regulatory Officer at The Coca-Cola Company, recognised the SAI Platform as a unique organisation, stating that “SAI Platform is taking us into the future of sustainable agriculture.” She suggested borrowing the concept of translational science as applied in the health and wellness industry and make the topic of sustainable agriculture and sourcing more understandable to farmers as well citizens and policy makers.

The liveliness of the debates and sessions highlighted the complexity of these challenges. In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize that we need to learn even more. Thus, overcoming these challenges will be a journey.

Leontino Balbo, the Agricultural Director of the Balbo Group in Brazil, shared his personal journey. “As a young boy, I developed a passion for nature. As a farmer, I look at nature’s lifecycle as a whole. Don’t feed the plants, but focus on the health of the soil so that the soil can take care of the plants. It is a step-by-step process that has taken us more than 20 years, but we can now produce completely sustainable sugar cane.”

Dr. Aileen Ionescu-Somers, the Head of the IMD Center for Corporate Sustainability Management, said: “The food industry is entering a new era of systemic innovation, going beyond product and process innovation into a full redesign of value chains. IMD is partnering with SAI to help the world’s largest food companies to develop the capabilities to take the lead in this transformation.”

During the general assembly, SAI Platform elected new members of the executive committee: Frank van Ooijen of Friesland Campina, Carol S. Kitchen of Land O’Lakes, Nathalie Richie of Kraft, and Dirk-Jan de With of Unilever. Dr. Ernesto A. Brovelli, Senior Manager of Sustainable Agriculture of The Coca-Cola Company was elected to be the new President and will lead the SAI Platform in the next phase of its journey.

About the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform is an independent association and the only global reference centre for sustainable agriculture for the food sector. The SAI Platform was launched in 2002 by Danone, Nestlé and Unilever to promote sustainable agriculture. Since then, the following additional 37 companies and organisations have joined the SAI Platform: Anglo Beef Processors, Agrarfrost, Agroterra, Arla, Aviko, Barilla, Bord Bia, Cayuga Marketing, CIO Parma, Coca-Cola, DeLaval, EISA, Farm Frites, Fonterra, Friesland Campina, General Mills, GFRAS, Heineken, illycaffè, Inalca, Innovations Center US Dairy, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Lamb Weston – Meijer, Land O’Lakes, LMC, Mars, McCain, McDonald’s, McKey, Novus, OSI, PepsiCo, QMS, Sara Lee, Tchibo, and Vion.


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