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Edible Nuts, Spices and Vegetable Ingredients – Capitals snapshot

Manufactured: Investing in sesame processing technology for enhanced food safety

  • Olam Edible Nuts acquired Ahenk, a leading Turkish producer of tahini paste made from sesame used in Asian, Middle Eastern and European cuisines. Further investment in highly advanced technology to upgrade the plant delivers desired ‘ultra-white’ sesame reducing the use of processing agents.

Natural: Managing extreme weather events and restoring Natural Capital in California

  • California continued to experience extreme weather events. Floods, wildfires, depletion of underground aquifers and record temperatures impacted water availability and quality in Olam Spices & Vegetable Ingredients (SVI) agri operations.
  • In 2017, SVI increased its commitment to the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC), co-chairing CWAC’s Metrics Committee. Working with The Pacific Institute, SVI is helping to develop a framework to measure the impacts of projects such as meadow and wetland restoration, groundwater recharge and infrastructure improvements.
  • In 2018, SVI will look to further support Sierra Nevada headwaters and meadow restoration projects through CWAC and, in partnership with the US Forest Foundation and others, to increase awareness of the importance of California’s water resources.

Social: Processing export crops in origin shows farmers a ready market and creates wider jobs

  • In the town of Dimbokro in Côte d’Ivoire, Olam’s investment in cashew processing over the past 13 years has created 900 full-time and seasonal jobs, many held by women. Dimbokro Prefect, M. N’Guessa Obouo Jacques, sums up the impact:

“During the cocoa sector decline, the N’Zi region was badly affected, but Olam has helped by promoting cashew nuts here. By doing so, it breathed new life into Dimbokro, and assisted the Government in providing jobs, thus enabling people to work and financially take care of themselves. Such positive impact lifted the population out of poverty and gave hope to the whole region. Olam has greatly fostered the economic and social development of Dimbokro.”

Manufactured: Upgrading and expanding peanut capacity for improved food and employee safety

  • Olam Peanuts in the USA has undertaken phased investments to upgrade the standards of acquired shelling plants (McCleskey Mills and Brooks Peanut Company), strengthening Environmental, Health and Safety, and Sustainability factors. This included infrastructure upgrades at both the Smithville and Rochelle facilities in Georgia, and at the Olam-owned buying points. Improvements were also made in farmer stock handling, drying, and hauling, contributing significantly to increased processing of peanuts.
  • During the major expansion of warehouse and cleaning/drying capacity for peanuts in Argentina, managers gave more than 40 ‘Tool Box Talks’ over 50 training hours. During 90,000 man hours the team had neither Accidents nor Near-Misses, but did spot and address 12 Unsafe Acts.

Social: Olam SVI supports development of industry standards for spices

  • SVI participated as a member of the Sustainable Spices Initiative Steering Committee which is developing standards and monitoring protocols for the world’s spices and herbs supply chain. Member companies, including SVI, commit to source spices in accordance with the standards by 2020.

Intellectual and Human: Olam SVI supports research and students

  • SVI supports the Jordan School of Agriculture Sensory Lab at Fresno State University, USA, through a 10-year research grant, among other initiatives.
  • In 2017, SVI participated in The Wonderful Company’s education programme in California which provides a 4-year curriculum to students in Ag Business, Ag Mechanics, and Agri Science Tracks, enabling them to receive an Associate’s Degree when they graduate high school. As part of this programme, SVI provided training to more than 75 students in a career workshop in December 2017 and will provide students job shadowing and internship opportunities.

Social: Continued focus on labour issues, yield and traceability in hazelnuts

  • 400,000 farmers in Turkey grow 70% of the world’s hazelnuts. At harvest, farmers rely on a migrant workforce estimated as high as 1.5 million people. This brings challenges, including child labour and wage issues. Olam Progida works with customers, competitors and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to improve working conditions, as well as help farmers improve yields, which in turn can boost labour wages.
  • The FLA noted in its 2016 assessment report that the political turmoil and clashes in Kurdish-populated South Eastern Turkey may have caused an increase in child labour – some workers stated they had no choice but to work in the hazelnut harvest with their children to earn money. The FLA noted that in spite of company attempts (Olam Progida plus 2 other companies in the monitoring programme) to reduce child labour, a total of 99 child workers were detected within the seasonal workforce as well as within the local and family workforce. Olam Progida has since doubled its sustainability team and developed further social projects with NGOs, local authorities and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Under the Olam Livelihood Charter the sustainability team trained 2,870 farmers specifically on labour issues.
  • Additional outreach includes: Awareness raising training for local authorities as well as labour contractors and teachers. Training is also given to the migrant workers on issues such as gender equality, child labour and financial literacy.See for the 2016 assessment (2017 to be published later in 2018).

1. The results of Independent Assessments for August 2017 are not yet published