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Exclusive Interview with Cargill’s Michel Meyer
Michel Meyer, MEA Department Manager, Cargill

How did you come to fill your current position in Cargill and why did you choose this industry originally?

I got to know and learn about the industry through my father (Claude Meyer) who was a broker of French wheat. It was my father who introduced me to Cargill as the market leader in commodity trading.

How do you summarize your overall experience in Cargill?

I have been fortunate to have an extremely broad range of global experience within Cargill. I joined Cargill in 1990 and between then and  2000, I traded corn and forex, worked on project finance in petroleum and managed the opening of our office in Morocco. I also served as Cargill’s country manager in Kazakhstan, leading Cargill’s joint venture company “Dan”, developing a wheat origination network, handling the exports out of the CIS and managing  the acquisition of inland elevators.

 Since 2000, I have been managing the Middle East & Africa department within Cargill’s World Trading Group. My team’s responsibilities include the trading and shipping of grains and oilseeds originated in the Black Sea, Western  Europe, North and South America and sold  to customers in the Middle East and Africa region, mainly state owned entities, flour millers, feed millers and distribution companies.

Beyond the trading and commercial part, I also worked on investment projects in the Middle East & Africa, optimizing Cargill’s supply chain, leading for example the expansion of Cargill in Egypt through the acquisition and construction of a crush plant (3000mt/day capacity) as well as a port elevator in Dekheila.

 Following Cargill’s AWB acquisition in 2011, I have been named chairman of the Board of AWB Geneva and worked on the integration with Cargill existing businesses.

Current buzzwords of the industry include “efficiency” and ” sustainability”, how does Cargill juggle with these new trends and incorporate them in its business strategy considering recent market volatility?

Promoting sustainable supply chains is one of Cargill’s commitments through specific action plans as well as thought leadership, specifically around land use, climate change, water resources, farmer livelihoods, food security and nutrition.

What would you say is the most inspiring way to get younger generation more involved in and excited by the agriculture industry?

Not only we are taking a small part in feeding the world,  which is inspiring,  but we are also in a business for which the demand can only grow!

What major changes happened during your time in Middle East and Africa department?

The primary change is the market liberalization in many destination countries: we used to have only one entity (government board) buying wheat and another buying feed grains in each country! The other big change is the new grain surpluses in many different origins. A grain importer has now much more choices of origins and therefore qualities. We have more buyers, more sellers and our job became much more fun!

How do you think IAOM MEA annual conference and Expo help Cargill to achieve more in the region?

The first concrete advantage is to be able to meet most of our wheat customers from the Middle East and Africa in one place, it saves a lot of time! It is also interesting to get to see the latest technical changes in the industry. This conference regroups all the key people in the wheat trade and industry for the Middle East & Africa, it is simply very useful for us.

What are your ongoing plans and where do you see the future when it comes to the growing population? Recent FAO reports suggest that the agricultural input needs to increase by 50% in order to provide for 10 billion people by 2050. How will Cargill contribute to avoid potential food shortage?

Indeed food production needs to keep growing to meeting the demand of a growing population. In addition to that, we see food consumption patterns changing in growing economies, from grain based diets to protein-based diets. So far, the production has been able to keep up with growing demand thanks to a combination of a growing worldwide acres and better yields. Cargill’s main contribution will continue to reside in connecting the areas of surplus with the areas of deficit and making sure that the flows of food go where they are most needed.

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