Olam International, one of world’s leading agri-businesses, has published its 2014 sustainability report, detailing its notable achievements and continuing progress towards long-term sustainability goals.
The Singapore based enterprise invested $29.7 million in corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) initiatives in 2014 and a further $10.7 million was spent on CR&S staff. This investment allowed the company to reduce absolute water volume for irrigation by 5%, slash carbon emissions from plantations and farms by 18%, and more. It also enabled the company to complete its supply chain environmental footprinting, a significant step towards reaching its ambitious goal of achieving end-to-end sustainable supply chains by 2020.
Olam’s CSR spending is significant, however, it is still relatively small compared with recognized sustainability leaders, such as Walt Disney. Olam spent around $40 million on CSR in 2014. Its total revenue was $19 billion in the same year. Comparatively, Walt Disney brought in over half that revenue ($45 billion) but spent much more proportionally on CSR initiatives ($250 million). While Olam and Walt Disney do operate in very different industries, the comparison is a useful indicator of CSR commitment. CSR budgets are not the only way to tell how seriously a company is taking sustainability, but they are an excellent place to begin.
These numbers tell us that Olam, and other companies with similar CSR allocations, are making meaningful commitments; and their CSR credentials are benefiting because of it. However, they are still far short of the mark compared to the leaders in corporate sustainability.