Our Approach

At COFCO INTL LTD, social and environmental responsibility is part of everything we do.

Our Sustainability Principles


The Changing Playing Field

Population growth, climate change and water scarcity put a strain on our global food system. The agriculture sector must continually rise to meet these challenges, while ensuring a commitment to responsible agricultural practices and supply chain management.

With a growing community of stakeholders, products can no longer be traded only on price, volume and market trends.

The need to adopt sustainable business practices has never been greater as demand for sustainable products continues to transform the business landscape. 

Against this backdrop, COFCO Agri’s future success hinges on our ability to understand our social and environmental impact and develop strategies to mitigate risks, enhance resilience and explore opportunities. Sustainability has become a crucial driver for our business model as we work to deepen our commitment to food security and deliver long-term value throughout our supply chains.


COFCO Agri Sustainability Principles


As a leading agricultural supply chain manager, COFCO Agri strives to generate economic prosperity, mitigate our environmental impact and contribute positively to social wellbeing. Our sustainability approach is driven by the following principles:

  • Contribute to global food security and safety by optimizing production and efficiency;
  • Respect human rights, provide safe and productive work conditions for our staff;
  • Measure, communicate and proactively reduce our environmental impact;
  • Promote good environmental, health and safety, and labour practices throughout our supply chains;
  • Contribute positively to the welfare of communities where we operate, by increasing access to education and improving labour practices;
  • Cultivate partnerships through collaboration and transparency with key stakeholders to further develop shared goals.

Food Security and Safety

Using our extensive geographical reach, we work to optimise the flow of commodities by monitoring global supply and demand trends, weather patterns and price drivers for crops. With our direct involvement in the supply chain, we support food and agriculture systems that optimise production efficiency and minimise wastage, contributing to global food security.

Our quality and microbiological control system along the supply chain ensures that we constantly deliver safe and high-quality products to our clients. The majority of our processing facilities have obtained external food/feed quality certifications, such as HACCP, GMP+B2 and ISO9001, and we are working to further increase the number of certified operations. 
 

Our People

A healthy and motivated workforce is the most critical driver for our business. Due to our large geographical coverage and diverse business lines, our workforce reflects great diversity with regards to race, religion, gender, age, ethnic origin and culture. Our Human Rights Policy spells out our commitment to treating our employees and contractors fairly and respectfully. A global employee grievances system will provide them a means to make their needs and concerns known, in a timely and confidential manner.  The system, in place now in our South America operations, is being introduced at COFCO Agri facilities across the globe. 

It is our top priority to ensure that our employees and contractors perform their duties in a healthy and safe environment. Under the guidance of our global Health and Safety Policy, we implement several initiatives to nurture a safety culture whereby every employee takes responsibility for personal safety of that of their colleagues. We design our health and safety management systems in accordance with internationally recognised standards, such as OHSAS 18,001.

Systematic training is provided to all employees and contractors regarding occupational health and safety, including the use of protective equipment, emergency response protocol and the use of technical equipment amongst others. A series of Key Performance Indicators help us to track the safety performance at each site on a monthly basis, with safety targets established to ensure continuous improvement. 
 

Managing our Environmental Impact


Across COFCO Agri’s operations, we seek to systemically manage our environmental impact by reducing our carbon footprint, improving water efficiency, controlling waste and pollution, and managing land responsibly.

Reducing our Carbon Emissions

We have been working to grow our business whilst reducing our operational carbon emissions. This includes becoming more energy efficient, with investments in clean technology and carbon emissions reduction initiatives.

Since 2010, we have been tracking the Greenhouse Gas Emissions across our industrial operations, silos and offices. Our annual emissions are audited and certified by a third-party agency TÜV NORD. Based on the data, we identify emission reduction opportunities and implement energy-efficient projects to minimise our footprint.

In addition, we have a portfolio of ongoing low-carbon energy installations with renewable energy technology projects in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. These investments aim to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and position COFCO Agri as a significant producer of ethanol, bio-diesel and biomass power, supplying the grid with electricity.

Improving Water Efficiency

Water is among our most precious natural resources – and it is vital to our agricultural and industrial processes. At all our industrial facilities, we have set annual water efficiency targets to encourage good practices. We have also taken measures to reduce freshwater withdrawal by implementing an operational excellence programme and investing in water saving infrastructure.

In our sugar mills in Brazil, for example, we reduced freshwater withdrawal per tonne of sugarcane processed by 20 per cent as a result of a new effluent treatment facility and vinasse concentrator. This initiative also resulted in cost savings and optimised the quality of effluent disposal.

Waste and Pollution Control

Under the environmental management system ISO 14,001, we monitor and reduce our waste, wastewater generation and pollutants emissions at each facility. Monthly and annual data is collected at each facility and managed in an online database system to monitor our performance.

For our primary production of sugarcane in Brazil, our responsible application of pesticides and fertilizer procedure ensures we minimise the environmental impact on neighbouring land and communities.

Responsible Land Management

We recognize that secure and equitable rights to land and natural resources are essential to rural development, and to the livelihoods of rural communities. Our respect of customary and legal land rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples is reflected in our Responsible Land Acquisition and Leasing Policy.

As a rule, we favour land leasing over land acquisition. Land rights is an important factor in our Environmental and Social Risk due diligence at the beginning of every new project development.

We understand that the total land area in our supply chain is not just what we manage directly. We therefore take measures to ensure that our suppliers also respect responsible land stewardship and safeguard the environment. For example, in our soybean supply chain in Brazil, we perform geo-mapping activities for all direct suppliers, ensuring that we do not source from land converted from High Conservation Value (HCV), or violate the cut-off date for land conversion set by the Soy Moratorium and the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS).
 

Sourcing with Integrity

As a global food supplier, COFCO Agri engages with our key stakeholders across a wide spectrum of topics in order to source our products responsibly.

To meet the increasing demand for agricultural products, we work to find ways to make land more productive and to protect the biodiversity upon which all food production depends. That means responsible sourcing practices and collaboration with independent bodies to help ensure long term security of supply.

Soybeans

As a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS), COFCO Agri supports initiatives to address the social and environmental impacts of soy production. We have been steadily increasing the trading volume of RTRS certified soybeans in our portfolio in the past few years, while integrating other certification schemes into our supply chain – such as the International Sustainability & Carbon Certificate (ISCC) and the Biomass Biofuels and Sustainability Voluntary Scheme (2BSvs).  

Furthermore, we have put in place a Sustainable Sourcing Policy and a set of stringent procedures in soybean origination to promote best land management practices and to ensure fair labour practices for producers.

As land use and deforestation are key sustainability challenges in soybean production, COFCO Agri joined industry peers and NGO partners in 2006 to initiate the Soy Moratorium in Brazil. We commited not to purchase from or offer financing to farmers who grow soy on land in the Amazon biome that were deforested after July 24, 2006. The Soy Moratorium was recently aligned with Brazil’s new Forest Code, with a new cut-off date of July 24, 2008.

COFCO Agri has been member of the ongoing Soy Working Group, which focuses on reducing deforestation and ensuring sustainable soy production in the Amazon. We have also expanded our sustainable sourcing scope to include the Chaco and Cerrado biomes, and we utilize satellite mapping technology to ensure our products are not sourced from deforested land or areas of high conservation value.

Coffee

By working with independent bodies and local associations, we maintain the highest possible standards of sustainable agriculture practices. Partnering with certification bodies such as the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Fair Trade and the 4C Association enables the transfer of value across the supply chain and fulfils the market need for sustainable sourcing under a credible label.

Rigorous training on agroforestry and best agricultural practices helps our suppliers increase yields and improve quality, whilst protecting forest habitats. For our business, the training and certification programmes ensure a stable supply of high quality beans from sustainable coffee farms; for our suppliers it translates into practical and concrete life improvements, such as a better harvest, a higher income and greater food security. 
            

Community Engagement

Wherever we operate, we strive to make our presence a positive one for local communities. Understanding their needs and concerns through constant dialogue is a crucial component of our commitment to sustainability and to the long-term health of our business.

Community Engagement Programmes

Our engagement programmes focus on educational assistance, healthcare and rural development.  
In Brazil, for example, we routinely convene local stakeholders to listen to the needs and perspectives of the communities where we work, and act accordingly. We have channelled this feedback into programmes to promote early education, youth development, and apprenticeships. We have also developed charitable programmes for underprivileged children and coordinated a number of health awareness and community recycling initiatives.

In Argentina, we provide critical assistance to eight rural schools in close proximity to our operations and sourcing activities. We offer ongoing sponsorship, and our staff pay regular visits to the schools to evaluate their needs and the challenges they face.

In Paraguay, we work with the local community to address their greatest challenges, providing financial support and assistance to two schools and a home for children orphaned by AIDS, as well as a care house for the elderly. With an eye to expanding our reach, we are additionally identifying the needs of a number of health centres and rural schools in Corpus Christi and Troncal 3.

Stakeholder Grievances Mechanism

We are committed to providing a channel for communities and other stakeholders to raise issues of concern and to address them through an accessible and confidential process. We are in the process of implementing a global stakeholder grievances mechanism, where community members and stakeholders will be able to lodge their concerns via email, hotline or telephone anonymously, in local languages.
 

Partnerships and Collaborations

The challenges we face are increasingly global in nature. To solve them, we need coordinated action that extends beyond borders. International partnerships and collaborations are vital to streamlining our activities, and increasing the impact of our work in responsible business practices, sustainable supply chains, environmental stewardship and community welfare.  

As a signatory company to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), we are committed to its principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and to fully incorporating them into our Code of Conduct and day-to-day operations.