Taking agricultural sustainability mainstream – Olam launches AtSource
Leading global agri-business, Olam International (“Olam’’), has launched AtSource – a sustainable and traceable sourcing solution that will provide unrivalled environmental and social insights into the journey of agricultural raw materials and food ingredients from the farm to manufacturing and retail customers.
AtSource will also enhance Olam’s ability to assess and positively influence the environmental footprint of the 4.7 million farmers in the company’s supply chain, the vast majority of whom are smallholders growing crops such as cocoa, coffee and cashew in emerging markets.
Understanding the true sustainability impact of agricultural products is increasingly critical both for Olam and its customers. The earth’s capacity to continue to provide water, nutrients and a stable climate is at a tipping point. Millions of farmers are also in need of a future that is economically and socially sustainable, one in which future generations will invest and grow.
However, reliable and consistent data and insights required to counter these trends are difficult to obtain, due to the high level of fragmentation in global agricultural supply chains, particularly in emerging markets. This is because crops often make their way from farmers in rural villages, change hands through many intermediaries, and are combined with other volumes before reaching a manufacturer such as a food company. This makes traceability difficult. Olam and its customers need a new set of tools to inform and plan social and environmental initiatives at the scale and urgency required to benefit farmers, rural communities and planet.
Co-Founder and Group CEO of Olam, Sunny Verghese, said: “Leading companies in the food sector have been investing significantly in social and environmental programmes to source their raw materials more sustainably, but change is not happening fast enough. In the current context, I would say it is impossible to state how much of the world’s food supply can be considered truly sustainable. It is the adage that if we cannot measure it, we cannot improve it.
“AtSource will provide our customers with the most comprehensive sustainable supply solution for their raw materials. With AtSource we can now deliver the critical sustainability factors for the long-term resilience of a crop or ingredient from a particular producing country or region. Using this information, we can drive meaningful improvements through the supply chain from farm to customer. Make no mistake, capturing this information at a scale and across all our supply chains will be a huge and costly task. But as the company closest to the farmer, we believe AtSource is a key driver in helping us to re-imagine global agriculture, by starting to mainstream sustainability before it is too late.”
AtSource presents manufacturers with rich and granular data through a digital dashboard which tracks the social and environmental footprint of a product. There are three tiers for customers to choose from.
AtSource Entry Tier is for products that comply with all Olam policies and the suppliers must have understood and signed the Olam Supplier Code. This minimises key risks for customers at country level and gives reassurance that suppliers are engaged in responsible sourcing principles and practices.
AtSource Plus is a strong customer proposition, focusing on identifying opportunities for improvement based on more than 80 indicators across 12 key sustainability topics starting at farmer group level through to logistics and processing. Example indicators include farmer yields, deforestation and water scarcity. While the framework is rigorous, it allows customers to tailor their interventions based on their specific sustainability priorities.
AtSource Infinity allows Olam and its customers to co-create programmes to achieve a net positive impact, putting more back into the farming system and the environment that is taken out, working towards a goal of regenerating agricultural and living landscapes at scale.
AtSource will initially begin with five product supply chains, with more gradually coming on board. This will include cocoa and cashew from Côte d’Ivoire, coffee from Brazil and Vietnam, and onions and garlic from the USA.
By 2025, Olam’s vision is for 100% of its physically sourced volumes to be AtSource ready.