Roberto Jank, CEO of AGRINDUS
«It is our responsibility to produce food efficiently»
TEXT: RAMÓN OLIVER IMAGES: ALBERTO CARRASCO
The food company AGRINDUS has been producing milk and other foods in a natural manner in the São Paulo region for 75 years. It has gone on to become a mainstay in the community, providing employment for disadvantaged groups and contributing actively in numerous social initiatives. But, above all else, AGRINDUS has marked a milestone both nationally and internationally by committing itself to a model of sustainable food production that is environmentally-friendly and which, in some way, reconciles human beings with nature. These are the values that have made it a worthy recipient of the Award for the Best Agricultural Initiative in this latest edition of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Outreach Awards.
In terms of our diet, must we return to the origins?
Indeed so. We’ve been producing milk, oranges or meat for 75 years now. We do everything on our farm in a natural, efficient manner, and in equilibrium with the environment. The most important thing is the equilibrium with water and the soil, two resources that are finite for humanity. Because, while the world population keeps growing, the planet does not. This is why we producers have an enormous responsibility to produce food efficiently.
Is the local component important in your business model?
It really is. We produce and distribute exclusively for the state of São Paulo, where there is a population of close to 40 million people, and we serve food each day to some 300,000 consumers. In this way, the products don’t have to be transported over long distances. Quality products, fresh and natural for local consumption.
Is traceability a factor deemed increasingly important?
In our case, we don’t buy milk from third parties; everything is produced within our farm under strict quality controls. From the seeds to the packaging used to contain our foodstuffs. We are thus able to guarantee traceability right from source. Throughout this process, the communication with consumers is highly important, as this is the factor that gives them peace of mind regarding the food products they consume.
You define yourselves as a ‘Sustainable Agribusiness’.
Our model is based on sustainability. To achieve this, the whole process revolves around a virtuous circle with everything in perfect equilibrium. We use animal excreta as fertilizer for the production of forage, in such a way that there is no interference with the environment and everything is produced in a rational, totally natural manner.
Do we attach sufficient importance to what we eat?
Increasingly so. Today there are products such as almond milk, vegetable milks, lab-produced meat… That’s why it’s becoming ever more important and necessary to possess a clean label that guarantees the traceability and natural quality of your products.
You have started up the A2A2 project. What does this entail?
A2 is a protein that is present in cow’s milk and also in that of many other mammals, including us humans. What has happened is that, over time, cows underwent a genetic mutation and that A2 protein was transformed into A1, much more difficult to digest. Most abdominal pains and other digestive problems people encounter with milk consumption can be attributed to intolerance to the A1 protein. Our milk is completely natural and contains the A2 protein, so that people can digest it much more easily.
You also attach great importance to animal welfare.
Cows are very methodical. They need ample space to graze and ruminate, a climate with mild temperatures, regular schedules, good water, silence, and food in abundance. Providing the animals with all of these elements is the best investment you can make, because the ample returns will more than offset it. In every sense. With good breeding, longevity, good milk… Taking care of the animals is the most important thing, both for them and for us.
Is AGRINDUS a company for the people?
It’s a company on behalf of and for consumers, who are happy to have a different, top quality product. And also for our workers, who are a really important part of the company. Some 300 people live and work on our farm and some families have been with us for five generations. That is something we are extremely proud of.