A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (November 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Founded||Nigeria (1989 )|
|Revenue||S$32,992.7 million (2019)|
|S$1,056.2 million (2019) |
|S$498.2 million (2019) |
|Total assets||S$25,670.4 million (2019) |
|Total equity||S$6,432.0 million (2019) |
Number of employees
|41,172 (2019) |
Olam International is a major food and agri-business company, operating in 60 countries and supplying food and industrial raw materials to over 19,800 customers worldwide. Olam is among the world's largest suppliers of cocoa beans and products, coffee, cotton and rice.
In 1989, the Kewalram Chanrai Group established Olam Nigeria Plc to set up a non-oil based export operation out of Nigeria to secure hard currency earnings to meet the foreign exchange requirements of the other Group Companies operating in Nigeria. The success of this operation resulted in Olam establishing an independent export operation and sourcing and exporting other agricultural products. The Group's agri-business was headquartered in London until 1996, and operated under the name of Chanrai International Limited. The business began with the export of cashews from Nigeria and then expanded into exports of cotton, cocoa and sheanuts from Nigeria.
Move to Singapore
Between 1993 and 1995, the business grew from a single operation into multiple origins, first within West Africa, and then to East Africa and India. The move into multiple origin countries coincided with the deregulation of the agricultural commodity markets.
Olam International Limited was incorporated in Singapore on 4 July 1995 as a public limited company. In 1996, at the invitation of the Singapore Trade Development Board (now Enterprise Singapore), Olam relocated their entire operations from London to Singapore. Furthermore, the Singapore Government awarded Olam the Approved International Trader status (now called the Global Trader Programme) under which Olam was granted a concessionary tax rate of 10%, which was subsequently reduced, in 2004, to 5%. On relocation to Singapore, the Group's agri-business was reorganised to be wholly owned by Olam International Limited in Singapore.
In 2002, AIF Capital became the first external investor to take an equity stake in the company. In 2003, the state-owned Temasek Holdings, through its wholly owned subsidiary Seletar Investments, took a stake in Olam, followed by International Finance Corporation (IFC).
As of December 2014, following a Voluntary General Offer Temasek held close to 80% of Olam. By 2020 this had reduced to 53.4%. In 2015 Mitsubishi Corporation acquired a shareholding of 20% making them the second largest shareholder.
The management team of Olam has a shareholding in the company approximating 6.3% of the total issued share capital. Olam's free float owned by public shareholders accounts for approximately 15.9% of the total issued share capital in 2020.
Possible merger and divestment
In 2010, Olam International discussed a possible merger with one of its main competitors; Geneva-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities, the world's largest cotton and rice trading company. This idea was abandoned in early 2011.
In 2019, the company announced plans to sell its sugar, rubber, wood products and fertiliser units.
In January 2020, Olam International announced division of its portfolio of diverse products into two new operating businesses, Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) and Olam Global Agri (OGA). The decision followed from its 2019 business review, and a multi-year plan announced early in 2019 to invest US$3.5 billion into key growth areas, such as edible nuts, coffee and cocoa, while shedding other sectors. In the statement released by the firm, Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), will consist of its cocoa, coffee, edible nuts, spices and dairy businesses, Olam Global Agri (OGA) will include grains and animal feed, edible oils, rice, cotton and commodity financial services.
Eradicating Child Labour
In 2020, Olam Cocoa, a subsidiary of Olam International, rolled out a new initiative in partnership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and local cocoa farming cooperatives to digitally register its nearly 7,000 farmer suppliers in Cameroon and their households. This also include introducing rigorous tractability and reporting systems, educating local communities about child labor, as well as setting up dedicated child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS). In 2018/2019, Olam found more than 7,000 instances of inappropriate child labor in its supply chain, remediating approximately 70% of them.  This is the first instance of professional application of such initiatives at such a scale in Cameroon. Forward, the company plans to expand its initiative to cover nearly 223,000 farmers in three countries across West Africa.
Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP)
Olam International currently one of the founding members of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a multi-stakeholder platform, co-convened by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute to promote resource efficiency and sustainable trade flows, production and consumption operations, and supply chains in the global rice sector.
Sustainable cocoa initiatives
in order to improve crop yields in its network, Olam Cocoa has implemented a digital information system called Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) to collect data from more than 160,000 cocoa farmers across 20 countries, tracking a range of farm level data points including cocoa tree age and soil type. For the 2020 growing season, Olam Cocoa has joined a program with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to distribute locally-sourced fertilizer to cocoa farmers in its cocoa sourcing operations in that country.
Between 2011 and 2015, Olam's palm oil trade volume grew by approximately twenty times—from 71,000 tons to 1.53 million tons. Despite Olam's stated commitment to RSPO-certified palm oil, the company shunned transparency as it expanded its palm oil production.
A report released by the NGO Mighty Earth and Gabon-based NGO Brainforest on December 12, 2016 revealed that Olam was operating a secretive palm oil trading operation worldwide, particularly with its third party suppliers in Asia. Olam was accused of endangering the forest habitats of gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants due to widespread deforestation. It was revealed that in Gabon, Olam had cut 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) of forest for palm oil.
The photos and videos featured in the NGO report show Olam bulldozing Gabonese rainforests for rubber and to establish what they intended to build as Africa's largest palm oil plantation. The analysis found that in Gabon, Olam cleared approximately 26,000 hectares of forest across its four palm oil concessions since 2012 and additional forests for rubber.
On December 16, 2016, shortly after the report was released, Mighty Earth submitted a formal complaint against Olam to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for Olam's deforestation and for violating FSC policies. In response to these allegations, on February 21, 2017, Olam suspended further land clearing of forests in Gabon for at least a year. As a result, Mighty Earth suspended its campaign.
The agreement between Mighty Earth and Olam was renewed in 2018. In its inaugural Excellence Awards in 2019, the industry-led Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil recognized Olam International for its conservation leadership in developing sustainable palm oil plantations having a positive impact on forest conservation, species conservation and emission reduction in Gabon.
On September 13, 2017 NGO Mighty Earth released a second report documenting findings that Olam purchases cocoa grown illegally in national parks and other protected forests in the Ivory Coast. The report accused Olam of endangering the forest habitats of chimpanzees, elephants and other wildlife populations by purchasing cocoa linked to deforestation. As a result of cocoa production, 7 of the 23 Ivorian protected areas have been almost entirely converted to cocoa. Olam was notified of the findings of Mighty Earth's investigation and did not deny that the company sourced its cocoa from protected areas in the Ivory Coast.
In 2020 the FSC, Olam and Mighty Earth commissioned SmartCert Group to perform a retrospective assessment of previous deforestation for Olam's palm oil plantations in Gabon. A second investigation will focus on Olam's rubber plantations in Gabon.
Muddy Waters allegations
In November 2012, Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research accused Olam of "deciding to take huge leverage and invest in illiquid positions", questioning its accounting practices and accusing its board of an "abject failure of leadership". Olam called the allegations "baseless rumour-mongering" and sued Block for libel, but its shares nevertheless fell 21%.
Forced evictions and land clearance in Laos
The company is involved in the production of coffee in Laos and the clearance of forests and villages to plant large plantations. Areas of land that were acquired by the company were previously inhabited and farmed by villagers who had paid their land taxes and were also farming coffee alongside other products. Compensation was only partly paid, with many evicted landholders being paid only in rice. Many landholders are now facing challenges to grow enough food to survive. This development of large industrial plantations at the sacrifice of the small holding family unit is argued by some to be counterproductive to the development of Laos; as it reduces the overall agricultural productivity; and increases poverty amongst the families, while a few officials and the company benefit.
In 2021, Olam International was named in a class action lawsuit filed by eight former child slaves from Mali who allege that the company aided and abetted their enslavement on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast. The suit accused Olam (along with Nestlé, Cargill, Mars, Incorporated, Barry Callebaut, The Hershey Company, and Mondelez International) of knowingly engaging in forced labor, and the plaintiffs sought damages for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- "Olam annual report 2019". Olam. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
- "Olam International Factsheet" (PDF). Olam. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
- George, George (15 April 2013). "Overview of global cocoa, coffee and sugar markets" (PDF). Global Grain.
- Roche, Julian (2019). Agribusiness: An International Perspective. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 139–143. ISBN 978-1-351-03972-7.
- "The world's food system has so far weathered the challenge of covid-19". The Economist. 9 May 2020.
- Bin Yahya, Faizal (2014). Intraco: Blazing A Trail Overseas For Singapore?. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing. p. 129. ISBN 978-981-4623-88-9.
- Bhattacharya, Jayati (2011). Beyond the Myth: Indian Business Communities in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 263. ISBN 978-981-4345-27-9.
- Nandini, Vijayaraghavan; Umesh, Desai (2017). Singapore Blue Chips. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing. p. 271. ISBN 978-981-4759-75-5.
- Wagner, Julien (3 April 2019). "Agroalimentaire: Olam desserre l'étreinte". Jeune Afrique (in French).
- Owoeye, Olufikayo; Odubola, Israel; Adams, Segun (2 September 2019). "Olam: Three decades and no slowing down on Nigeria's agribusiness value chain". Business Day.
- "OLAM INTERNATIONAL LIMITED". opencorporates. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
- Philip, Joji Thomas (21 March 2014). "Sunny Verghese | Aiming for long-term returns". Livemint.
- "Case Study:Olam" (PDF). Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
- "Olam International Ltd: New Credit Overview" (PDF). OCBC Bank. 30 May 2016.
- "Singapore's Temasek buys Olam stake for $303 mln". Reuters. 1 June 2009.
- Voluntary Unconditional Cash Offer: Close of the Offer, Dealings Disclosure and Final Level of Acceptances for 23 May 2014, retrieved 31 May 2020
- Humber, Yuriy (23 May 2014). "Temasek Unit Gets Control of Olam With 80% at Takeover Bid Close". Bloomburg.
- Daga, Anshuman; Azhar, Saeed (28 August 2015). "Olam gets new backer as Mitsubishi spends $1.1 billion on 20 percent stake". Reuters.
- Robinson, Gwen (15 February 2011). "Louis Dreyfus, Olam end talks". Financial Times.
- Olam to Sell Zim Assets, Africa: AllAfrica.com, 2013
- "Olam to sell Zim assets". The Herald. 17 July 2013.
- Lee, Justina (25 January 2019). "Olam to sell off rubber, sugar, wood products, fertilizer business". Nikkei Asian Review.
- "Olam divides businesses into two units, eyes listings". CNA. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- hermes (21 January 2020). "Olam splits businesses into two units". The Straits Times. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- confectionerynews.com. "Olam Cocoa introduces new app to monitor child labour on farms in West African countries". confectionerynews.com. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- "Olam Cocoa continues work to eradicate child labor". www.candyindustry.com. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- Eco-Business. "The race against time to cut rice's carbon footprint". Eco-Business. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- "Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP)". www.sustainablerice.org. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- Environment, U. N. (28 September 2017). "Sustainable Rice Platform". UNEP - UN Environment Programme. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- "RSPO Progress Report 2015, Olam International" (PDF). Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
- "Seeds of Destruction" (PDF). Rainforest Foundation UK. February 2013.
- "Ag Commodities Giant Agrees to Stop Deforestation in Africa". Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Palm Oil's Black Box" (PDF). Mighty Earth. December 2016.
- "Olam under fire over Africa deforestation". Financial Times. 11 December 2016.
- "Palm oil giant defends its deforestation in Gabon, points to country's 'right to develop'". Mongabay. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- Selby, Gaynor (12 December 2016). "Olam Linked to Palm Oil Related Deforestation in Scathing New Report". Food Ingredients First. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- Shah, Vaidehi (12 December 2016). "Green groups and Olam at loggerheads over deforestation". Eco Business. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- Fogarty, David (13 December 2016). "Olam denies charges of destroying Gabon forest". Straits Times. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Palm oil giant Olam accused over sourcing". BBC News. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Submission to the FSC: Olam Rubber Gabon –deforestation in the past 5 years" (PDF). Mighty Earth. July 2016.
- "Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate on Forest Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in Highly Forested Countries - Olam". Olam. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate on Forest Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in Highly Forested Countries". Olam. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- Soh, Andrea. "Olam to pause land clearing in Gabon in truce with Mighty Earth". The Business Times. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate". Reuters. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Olam to pause forest clearing in Gabon in truce with Mighty Earth". AsiaOne. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- Williams, Ann (22 February 2017). "Olam, US green group agree to collaborate on forest conservation and sustainable agriculture". The Straits Times. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Mighty Earth and Olam Renew Agreement". Mighty Earth. 25 January 2018.
- "2019 RSPO Excellence Awards Announced". Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- Higonnet, Etelle; Bellantonio, Marisa; Hurowitz, Glenn (September 2017). "Chocolate's Dark Secret" (PDF). Mighty Earth.
- Covey, R. and McGraw, W. S. “Monkeys in a West African bushmeat market: implications for cercopithecid conservation in eastern Liberia.” Tropical Conservation Science. 7.1 (2014): 115-125.
- Marchesi, P., Marchesi, N., Fruth, B., and Boesch, C. “Census and Distribution of Chimpanzees in Cote D’Ivoire.” PRIMATES. 36.4(1995): 591-607.
- “Poaching contributes to forest elephant declines in Côte d’Ivoire, new numbers reveal.” WWF. 05 September 2011.
- Bitty, A. E., Gonedele, S. B., Koffi Bene, J.C., Kouass, P.Q.I and McGraw, W. S. “Cocoa farming and primate extirpation inside The Ivory Coast’s protected areas.” Tropical Conservation Science. 8.1(2015): 95-113.
- "Olam International". Forest Stewardship Council. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- "'World's largest farmer' faces investigation into deforestation". Mighty Earth. 4 May 2020.
- Fair, James (25 March 2020). "Palm oil giant Olam under scrutiny again over Gabon plantations". Mongabay.
- "Olam launches defence against Muddy Waters - FT.com". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Muddy Waters Reaction to Olam Frantic Response - Muddy Waters Research". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Olam Sues Short-Seller Muddy Waters". Reuters – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 21 November 2012. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Jones, Sam. "Olam hits back at Block with libel suit". Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via Financial Times.
- "Coffee plantation in Paksong district, Champasak" (PDF). Land Info Working Group in Lao PDR. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
- How Asia Works, Studwell J, Longlist 2013
- Balch, Oliver (12 February 2021). "Mars, Nestlé and Hershey to face child slavery lawsuit in US". Retrieved 13 February 2021.