Olam's new platform lets customers check sustainability data

Commodity trader Olam International has launched a digital platform to provide customers with data on the supply chain and sustainability of its products.

The AtSource platform will help retain customers and differentiate Olam from its competitors, said chief executive Sunny Verghese.

Customers will also be able to use the data to drive changes based on their sustainability priorities.

Global agricultural supply chains are highly fragmented, especially in emerging markets, so it is difficult to obtain reliable and consistent data, said Mr Verghese.

"We are struggling to say how much of the global food production is sustainable because no one is measuring it," he said at the launch event yesterday.

"Our customers are struggling to say what is their environmental and social footprint. Now, in an instant, from AtSource, they would be able to calculate their environmental and social footprint."

Olam's customers - from food manufacturers to textile makers - can choose from three tiers.

The first level shows products that are sourced responsibly and provides third-party information for customers to minimise country risks. Olam customers can view this level for free.

The second has over 80 indicators in 12 key sustainability topics across the value chain, including farmer yields. Information on this tier, and its price, is tailored to meet a customer's needs.

The top tier involves Olam working together with the customer to create programmes that can regenerate agricultural landscapes on a large scale.

Olam CEO Sunny Verghese said its customers have given positive feedback about the AtSource platform.

Only 70 per cent of Olam's products are ready for the AtSource platform now. It aims to get all its products on the platform by 2025.

Olam has received positive feedback from customers about the platform, said Mr Verghese.

He noted that the agriculture sector is facing various challenges, with estimates showing that global food production needs to increase by 60 to 70 per cent on a calorific value basis in order to feed a growing population.

This also has to be done within certain limits in order to keep agricultural and planetary systems healthy for future generations.

Olam said it hopes to help regenerate farming systems and make them more viable and profitable.

The AtSource platform will help in this objective, as well as give the firm a competitive advantage over other companies.

On top of that, such sustainability efforts will allow Olam to create long-term value and eventually have a better financial performance, said Mr Verghese.

Olam shares, which have risen 15 per cent so far this year, closed unchanged at $2.34 yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Olam's new platform lets customers check sustainability data'. Print Edition | Subscribe