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Cargill’s commitment to China

CEO David MacLennan meets with Chinese leaders, discusses key issues 

July 13, 2016

China contains almost a quarter of the world’s people, yet less than seven percent of the planet’s arable land and water resources. Farmers in China are faced with the challenge of scaling up and increasing productivity while also reducing their environmental footprint.

In the midst of these challenges, key trends are creating rapid growth in the Chinese agriculture and food industries. An article published by Cargill last year outlines five particular trends that will shape China’s future – rapid urbanization; rising consumer incomes; a passion for protein, particularly pork; the importance of imports; and, the season for sustainability.

China has been an important market for Cargill since it began trading there in the 1970s. In the 1990s, Cargill was one of the first foreign companies to begin investing in the agricultural product processing industry. Between 1992 and 2010, more than 20 Cargill businesses – from animal nutrition to food ingredients to agricultural supply chain to energy, transportation and metals – expanded their presence in the country. Today, Cargill employs more than 9,000 people at 68 locations throughout China.

Last month, at the beginning of the company’s new fiscal year, Cargill Chairman and CEO David MacLennan visited China and met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other senior leaders in the Chinese government. The visit underscored the importance of China to Cargill – the company’s intent to continue investing in the country and the role it can play in food security and sustainability.

“As the world’s most populous country and the world’s second largest economy, China is of strategic significance for Cargill to deliver upon our commitment to feeding the world in a responsible way. Since we started our operations in China more than four decades ago, we’ve consistently been investing in the country’s agricultural development, aligned with China’s own objectives,” said MacLennan.

MacLennan was in China for the fourth round table summit of the Global CEO Council in Beijing, along with 14 other chairpersons and CEOs of multinational corporations. This year’s theme was “Challenges and Opportunities for Multinational Companies during China’s 13th Five-Year Plan.”

The GCC was initiated by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to further enhance friendship, international cooperation and common development, which supports the Chinese leadership on a wide range of important topics, such as innovation, urbanization and sustainability.

During his trip, MacLennan also met with a variety of other Chinese leaders. He was one of six U.S. CEOs invited to participate in the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue CEO Roundtable, which included Chinese Vice Premier, Mr. Wang Yang, State Councilor, Mr. Yang Jiechi, and Minister of Commerce, Mr. Gao Hucheng. In addition, he had discussions about food security and supporting small farmers with Minister of Agriculture Mr. Han Changfu; and visited with Vice Minister of AQSIQ, Mr. Mei Kebao and the Governor of Hebei Province, Mr. Zhang Qingwei.

“We were very well received by the Chinese government, which says a lot about our reputation and stature in China,” said MacLennan. “It’s a testament to all the efforts and significant contributions our China team has put into being a good corporate citizen of the country.”