World-leading vegetable seed company, East-West Seed, was ranked at number 28 out of 53 in FORTUNE’s annual Change the World list of global companies that are “doing well by doing good.”
The list is intended to showcase the power of capitalism to improve the human condition by identifying companies that have made an important social or environmental impact through their profit-making strategy and operations. “Our focus is on smallholder farmers who play a critical role in ensuring the adequate supply of agricultural products. They produce 70 percent to 80 percent of the world’s food,” said Bert van der Feltz, CEO of East-West Seed. “They are vital to food security and nutrition, especially in developing countries.
“Our model at East-West Seed proves that you can make a real difference in people’s lives while also operating a successful business, the two do not need to be mutually exclusive.”
Only for-profit businesses are eligible for the list, with FORTUNE evaluating and ranking each on four criteria including measurable social impact, business results, degree of innovation and corporate integration.
“The company, which has operations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America earns high marks for its local seed breeding efforts and the training it provides its customers,” states FORTUNE in the reasoning for East-West Seed’s ranking.
East-West Seed has its roots in Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines. Its founder Simon Groot started East-West Seed with Filipino seed trader Benito Domingo in 1982. Back then, many farmers were having a hard time growing good crops because of the low-quality, poorly adapted seeds they often saved from season to season. Low-quality seeds resulted in low yields, which translated into poverty and malnutrition for farmers and their families. Groot and Domingo sympathized with the farmers’ plight and saw a way to break the vicious cycle of poverty and help farmers prosper through diversification into high-value vegetable crops.
Today, East-West Seed is one of the world’s leading vegetable seed companies. The privately-owned company has played an important role in the development and improvement of tropical vegetable varieties that are adapted to tropical markets and growing conditions. Its mission is to provide innovative products and services that help to improve the livelihood of vegetable farmers. In addition, East-West Seed trains over 100,000 vegetable farmers annually in order to help maximize their yield and income through better knowledge on vegetable production and farming skills.
In October of last year, the company’s founder was awarded the annual World Food Prize for his decades of dedication in bringing vegetables to the forefront of the fight to improve global nutrition and health. In January 2019, East-West Seed was ranked first in the Access to Seeds Index for Global Seed Companies, besting 13 other global seed companies on their commitment and performance in providing the world’s smallholder farmers access to quality seeds. East-West Seed has its headquarters in Nonthaburi, Thailand. The company employs about 5,000 people and has 17 research and development (R&D) establishments in 7 countries. With exports to over 60 countries in tropical areas, East-West Seed serves nearly 20 million farmers around the world. In the Philippines, East-West Seed has 3 R&D establishments in Batangas, and Bukidnon, and its local head office is located in San Rafael, Bulacan.
Image credits: Contributed photo