“Our people are our greatest asset and productivity is enhanced when they are well nourished,” Bola Adeniji, General Manager, Olam Agri grain’s business in Nigeria.
With more than 33 years of agribusiness experience across six continents, Olam Agri operates at the heart of global food and agri-trade flows, helping customers around the world meet the increasing demand for nutritious food.
Malory Henry, Nutrition and Food Security Lead for Olam Agri’s Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability team said, “Our company’s purpose is to transform food, feed and fibre for a more sustainable future. We’ve made commitments to contribute positively to the prosperity and well-being of people along our supply chains, the protection and regeneration of our natural resource base, and the fight against climate change.”
Currently, Olam Agri has over 9,000 employees at over 50 manufacturing facilities around the world, applying their expertise and capabilities in global origination, processing, trading, logistics, distribution and risk management.
Olam Agri selected workforce nutrition as a company-wide initiative, recognising the importance of ensuring the health of the people who work towards achieving the company’s purpose.
Malory Henry continued, “Workforce nutrition is a critical initiative to promote employees’ productivity, satisfaction and well-being. We’ve a goal to ensure that 100% of our workforce has access to nutrition programmes by 2030.”
Providing access to nutrition for employees in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal
As part of a company-wide initiative, Olam Agri’s grains business across West Africa started an in-depth self-assessment in line with the principles of the Workforce Nutrition Alliance’s (WNA) scorecard. In the past year, nearly 4,500 employees at 12 worksites in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal were assessed according to employees’ level of access to, and the quality of, nutrition programmes. This was based on the WNA’s four pillars: healthy food at work, nutrition education, nutrition-related health checks, and breastfeeding support. WNA defines performance levels on the extent and quality of services, programmes and policies as Beginner, Bronze, Silver and Gold.
The self-assessment showed the majority of sites provide at least bronze-level nutrition programmes, which is the minimum threshold that Olam Agri is aiming to achieve for all its worksites:
- Three sites (25%) in Ghana (1) and Nigeria (2) achieved a “Silver” level assessment
- Six sites (50%) reached the “Bronze” status – Cameroon (1), Senegal (1), and Nigeria (4)
- Three sites (25%) – all in Nigeria – were marked as entry-stage “Beginner”
- All the assessed worksites run canteens for 100% of their employees
- 80% of assessed employees have access to free or subsidised meals
- 84% participate in annual health checkups
“Workforce nutrition is particularly important across Olam Agri’s grains business”, confirms Eleonore Ntampe Lenta, HR Assistant and workforce nutrition lead at Olam Agri’s production site in Cameroon: “Our staff typically work in regions where there are challenges with high rates of malnutrition, and therefore need special nutrition support. We’ve completed the initial implementation of our nutrition programmes on all our sites. We’re now building on this with innovations to engage and support our employees, such as continuous catering, cooking demos, healthy quiz challenges, healthy prize gifts baskets, more sports sessions, and more fruity Wednesdays for 2023.“
The worksites in Cameroon, including the grains facility, launched their workforce nutrition programme with an all-staff town hall meeting. Following the launch event in November 2022, Olam Agri has enhanced canteen meals and partnered with a sports agency to conduct an onsite aerobic activity with a sports coach. Furthermore, employee education about the importance of nutritious diets is provided regularly, and the company offers breastfeeding support. Eleonore Ntampe Lenta continued, “We have just implemented one-hour breastfeeding breaks per workday for all mothers during the first 15 months from childbirth.”.
Expanding access to healthy food at work
The aim is for all worksites to achieve the next level in 2023. The focus for West Africa’s grains operations is to introduce or expand access to improved meals for employees in several of Olam Agri’s grains operations. As part of its programme, the Cameroon team has started providing free, nutritious meals daily.
At Olam Agri grains operations in Senegal, which is currently a “Bronze” site, the canteen has been upgraded with new equipment, and a kitchen garden is being established to provide access to sustainably-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
An example of successful implementation of healthy food at work comes from Ghana, where all employees across all six locations now receive Royal Aroma fortified rice in all rice dishes at the work canteen. Fortified rice is rich in vitamins, iron, and zinc, and other significant minerals capable of improving the nutritional quality of foods. The plan is to improve on this initiative by including fruits on a regular basis as part of the effort to improve access to essential nutrition at the workplace.
Naa Masopeh, Communication Officer, Olam Agri in Ghana said, “Apart from providing access to improved nutrition and driving growth within the organization, it also provides a platform to start a serious conversation with employees about nutrition, diet, and the importance of exercise.”
Participation in the Workforce Nutrition Masterclass
Two Olam Agri worksites in Nigeria and Cameroon have benefitted from the Workforce Nutrition Masterclass. Both operations sent one participant to this dedicated online capacity-building programme offered by the WNA, which is open to participants from in-house HR and sustainability executives from different organisations around the world. The three-month course combines interactive group sessions, coaching exercises and helpful tools to implement workforce nutrition programmes directly.
Bola Adeniji, General Manager of Olam Agri’s grains business in Nigeria summarised the importance of workforce nutrition: “Our people are our greatest asset and productivity is guaranteed when they are well nourished. For me, nutritious food is the best medicine and the only remedy that can bring full recovery while being applied with any treatment. A healthy workforce is a more secure one.”