NEW YORK, US – For achievements that ranged from expanding the coffee industry in Nicaragua to pioneering new technology to harvest seafood, Rabobank North America Wholesale recognized three leading food and agriculture companies on Thursday, December 4th at its annual Client Week event in New York City.
Competing companies were assessed on their ability to drive meaningful innovation, expand into new markets, impact industry dynamics, impact consumers, and build upon sustainability and social responsibility efforts within the last 18 months.
The winners included: Nicaragua’s Mercon Coffee Group, which received the Rabobank Sustainability Award; Canadian-based Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated, which won the Rabobank Innovation Award; and The WhiteWave Foods Company headquartered in Colorado, which earned the marquee award of the night – the Rabobank Award for Leadership & Excellence. Mercon COO Juan Pablo Ibarra, Clearwater CEO Ian Smith and WhiteWave CFO Kelly Haecker accepted the awards at the event.
“We created these three awards based on our beliefs around what food and agriculture companies must do to be competitive in the long run,” said Rajiv Singh, CEO, Rabobank North America Wholesale.
“It is a cycle of knowing how to be innovative in their space, assessing their business models to see how they can be sustainable – both in terms of growing their business and protecting the environment, smart investment decisions keep this cycle going.”
“This perspective ties directly to Rabobank’s ‘Banking for Food’ vision that aims to help feed the world sustainably. With an estimated population of nine billion by 2050, companies from all parts of the global food chain will have to help feed more people by producing more with less impact on the earth’s resources.
We value innovation, sustainability and leadership qualities because they will ensure food and agriculture companies will be there in the future, making a difference. I want to congratulate Mercon, Clearwater and WhiteWave on their extraordinary achievements; we are proud to finance these leaders and thrilled to present them with these awards.”
Mercon Coffee Group
Mercon, which ranks among the top 10 global coffee traders, has supported the research and development of coffee variety clones that both protect against crop-specific diseases / pests and increase necessary diversification in grow-areas.
Recently, Mercon introduced the more pest-resistant Robusta coffees to entirely new regions of the traditional Arabica-growing country in Nicaragua. This will help eliminate the risk of diminishing coffee crops, which are also an important source of production and employment for the growers and people living in Nicaragua, helping them sustain a living.
“The Robusta crops are an important piece of Mercon’s legacy to Nicaragua, and we have worked very hard over the last ten years to prove that the production in Nicaragua will benefit the coffee industry and the country’s national economy,” said J. Antonio Baltodano, Chairman, Mercon Coffee Group.
“Our main driver has been to create a sustainable working model that promotes the development of our clients, communities, environment and our people. While these initiatives have boosted our growth, our main goal has been to create a model that will benefit everyone and last through time. We are very proud of that.”