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We Apply Our Resources, Expertise To Make Great Impact: Dimitri de Vreeze

Dimitri de Vreeze, Co-CEO, and Member of the Managing Board, Royal DSM in a conversation with BW Businessworld talked about DSM and its role in food system transformation and more.

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In the present world which can be very stressful due to several reasons, people need to adopt a healthy lifestyle, in order to enjoy a stable perfect life. Here, the role of DSM takes the centre stage, as it is a science company that provides solutions for Health, Nutrition, and Bioscience to create brighter lives for all. 

Dimitri de Vreeze, Co-CEO, and Member of the Managing Board, Royal DSM in a conversation with BW Businessworld talked about DSM and its role in food system transformation and more. 

1. Tell me more about DSM and the role it plays in food system transformation.

Ans- Royal DSM is a global, purpose-led company active in Health, Nutrition, and Bioscience. We believe in the power of science and innovation to answer some of the world’s biggest challenges and improve the health of people, animals, and the planet. 

We are driven by the purpose to create brighter lives for all by generating economic, environmental, and societal value for our stakeholders - customers, employees, shareholders, and society at large. DSM and our associated companies employ approximately 23,000 people around the world and deliver annual net sales of about €10 billion.

As a purpose-led organization, DSM is committed to lead a robust change towards sustainable food systems. By addressing the problems at the grass-root level, e.g. by producing accessible, affordable, and sustainable food through food fortification and enabling sustainable farming methods to reduce farm-level emissions, we are leading an overhaul at the bottom of supply chains and improving nutrition in disadvantaged communities. A partner of choice for customers to achieve their sustainability goals, DSM is evolving the benchmarks of sustainability and ensuring that the industry can deliver solutions within planetary boundaries.  

2. Can you elaborate more on the need for the food system transformation?

Ans- The world population is projected to grow to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, out of which India’s population alone is expected to reach 1.64 billion. This rise in population shall witness a parallel rise in demand for food and proteins. This would place tremendous pressure on our food systems to ensure healthy living of the population within the perpetually depleting finite resources of the planet. 

Moreover, the food systems are at major risk as climate change worsens. As the recent IPCC report signalled a “code red for humanity”, it sounded off an irreversible environmental change that the planet has undergone. 

This demands an urgent need for action. The current ways of production and consumption are not equipped to support the growing population. In fact, an estimated 30 per cent of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste every year when more than 720 million people in the world suffer from hunger. 

This is why we need to collaborate and rethink our food systems from farm to fork. What we cannot achieve alone, we can achieve together. We need to sustain partnerships at all levels and build on a holistic approach. For instance, it is impossible to address malnutrition without controlling climate change. An all-embracing change can drive us closer to achieving 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure sustainable and healthy diets for all. 

3. DSM recently announced its food system commitments. What is the plan for India and how do you plan to achieve it?

Ans- We envisage a world in 2050 where everyone has access to good nutrition; where agriculture and food production leave no environmental footprint; where food loss and waste do not exist anymore; and where farmers and their communities don’t just survive but thrive.  That is why we made explicit our contributions with a set of measurable and ambitious commitments in three main areas: improving the health of people, the planet, and livelihoods by 2030. With these commitments, we are striving to close the micronutrient gap of 800 million vulnerable people and support the immunity of 500 million people. We are also working to ensure double-digit on-farm livestock emission reductions and reach 150 million people with nutritious, sustainable plant-based protein foods. Further, we intend to support the livelihoods of 500,000 smallholder farmers across value chains together with our partners. 

We are ready to go above and beyond to bring about a change in the world we live in and create brighter lives for all. We believe awareness is the first step towards a shift and therefore, we organised a Sustainability Conclave in South Asia earlier this month to bolster our food system commitments and boldly address the need for sustainable animal farming. We have already initiated measures to build sustainable food systems. For instance, we recently launched Sustel, the most advanced environmental footprint calculation tool, delivering accurate and actionable farm-level solutions and improving the sustainability of animal farming. Our purpose-led consumer business Nu-Shakti increases the micronutrient value of home-cooked staple foods, helping consumers achieve a more balanced diet without altering the taste and appearance of the food or the dietary habits of consumers. 

As a leading player in the industry, we provide unique, sustainable, science-based, and innovative solutions for consumers in early-life nutrition, dietary supplements, pharma, medical nutrition, personal care, fragrances, biomedical materials, and nutrition improvement for the most vulnerable communities. We enable better food for everyone through specialty enzymes, cultures, probiotics, bio-preservation, sugar reduction, and savory taste solutions. With our Animal Nutrition and Health portfolio, we design specialty solutions for a radical, yet achievable, transformation in the sustainability of animal protein production. 

Our purpose, to create brighter lives for all, and scientific expertise guide all our innovations. Our strategic initiatives, like “We Make It Possible” which strives to accelerate solutions for sustainable animal farming, are a case in point of our efforts so far. We plan to continue to deliver newer and unique solutions that unlock the true value of sustainability. 

4. How do you think companies can contribute towards UN SDGs?

Ans- It is impossible to be commercially successful in a world that fails. That is why the private sector needs to interlink its strategies and strive to do well by doing well. The industry must harness its technical expertise to develop solutions that support UN SDGs and create positive societal impact. They must gear up their production strategies to reduce emissions at every stage. Not only is sustainable food becoming the choice of consumers, but also is the need of the hour. 

As the global leader in the science of improving health, of people, and of the planet, we at DSM have the capability and responsibility to live up to our purpose and apply our resources and expertise where we can have the greatest impact. We support the UN SDGs for a world that lives with Zero Hunger. We also put focus on improving Nutrition and Health (SDG 2 and 3), Resources & Circularity (SDG 12), and Climate and Energy (SDG 7 and 13). 

5. What is the role of public-private partnerships in achieving food security?

Ans- Achieving a resilient transformation requires the coming together of all stakeholders. There is no transformation without collaboration. The private sector needs to build partnerships with the NGOs and the Government to build awareness on healthy and nutritious food choices. At the same time, the public sector must leverage the scientific expertise of private companies to accelerate innovative solutions for the problems facing the planet. 

At DSM, we work closely with organizations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), WFP, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UNICEF, GAIN, and scientists and business partners across the value chain. From raising public health awareness to making nutritional products more accessible, the power of collaborations has helped us scale our solutions. Today, we reach several hundred million people each year; but want to do more. 

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Dimitri de Vreeze Co-CEO royal dsm