At a farewell symposium and reception on September 19, 2012, Mr Henk Bleker, the Dutch State Secretary for Agriculture, stepped forward to appoint retiring Nutreco Chief Executive Officer Wout Dekker as an Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau. The honour, which is granted by the Royal Household of the Netherlands, is given in recognition of special merit in society in the way the recipient has carried out his or her activities. Presenting the honour, Henk Bleker commented that what makes Wout Dekker truly exceptional are his qualities as an inspirer, a pioneer and a visionary. He added that Dekker is a role model for the modern Chief Executive Officer, ensuring his business performs excellently while also fully embracing its social responsibility.
Speaking after the event, Wout Dekker said: "I am sincerely proud to receive this honor. While it recognises the development of Nutreco and its role in agriculture and aquaculture as a means of feeding the global population, in that context it also reflects the combined contributions of the thousands of Nutreco men and women around the world; contributions that will continue through the work of Nutreco."
Feeding the Future
The symposium in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, gave attention to the Nutreco motivation of Feeding the Future, developed under the leadership of Wout Dekker. It featured three keynote presentations. Professor Louise Fresco, of Amsterdam University and the Supervisory Boards of Rabobank and Unilever, described the importance of animal protein throughout human history and that the provision of sufficient animal protein will be the major challenge in the coming decades. There is an imbalance of availability, with many having too much or too little and people in poorer countries are keen to progress and apply the production technology of richer countries. There will be a diversification of protein sources and the development of tailored nutrition for specific population groups.
Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, Chairman of the Executive Board of Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR), focused on the importance of farmers in feeding the world. Their task is becoming greater because the population is increasing while the number of farmers is decreasing. Despite recent volatility in commodity prices, food costs are down in real terms compared with 50 years ago. However land and labour costs are higher. Using the practices of the best farmers, applying the available knowledge and technology with precision farming can increase and improve production.
Dr Jason Clay, WWF Senior Vice President of Market Transformation, said "if we do not get how we produce right, we can turn out the lights and go home" because resources are being used too fast and not replenished. Not only is the population increasing, so is income and that means consumption rises faster. There is no single solution. It requires multiple strategies including a better use of genetics and elimination of waste. Good nutrition for all young people and education are vital to realise the potential innovations required.
Africa Agribusiness Academy
At the same event, newly appointed CEO Knut Nesse made a presentation from Nutreco of EUR 250,000 over five years to the Africa Agribusiness Academy. Based at Wageningen UR, with academic links in Africa and support from international business, the Academy is expanding and raising food productivity by promoting and facilitating the sharing of knowledge, and by inspiring entrepreneurs and early adopters. The donation was made in recognition of Wout Dekker's contribution to the development of Nutreco and was presented to the Academy at the request of Wout Dekker.
During the event Wout Dekker presented a donation raised by Nutreco employees and other colleagues for Women on Wings, a Dutch initiative striving to create employment for 1 million women in India by 2018, thus contributing to the Millennium Goals of the United Nations.
Wout Dekker career
Wout Dekker has worked for 30 years in aquaculture and agriculture, during which time he made significant contributions to the development of aquaculture in particular, notably in Chile and Norway. In 1994, he was a founding member of the management team of Nutreco and joined the Executive Board in 1996. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2000. In addition to a career in Nutreco, Wout Dekker was a member of the Dutch government-appointed Advisory Board on Biodiversity and Natural Resources that reported in 2011. He is a Wageningen Ambassador, a founding member of the Netherlands Agribusiness Forum and of Captains of Industry, was involved with the Sustainable Trade Initiative and was chairman of the Dutch Network of Sustainable Food Companies. Dekker serves on the Supervisory Boards of Rabobank, Macintosh Retail Group NV and Randstad Holding.