Food and Agriculture client events – focus on the most pressing issues of global agriculture

In October and November this year, the Food and Agriculture team of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions organised a series of client events around the world to discuss with its main stakeholders some of the most challenging issues in the agricultural sector. We also had a presence at several exhibitions and sponsored a number of conferences to explain the agricultural insurance services we offer.

Bernard Belk, Global Head of the Food and Agriculture team, commented on the greater effort made to reach out to a wider group of stakeholders. "For the first time, we had a consolidated outreach effort across all key markets worldwide. Our goal was to position ourselves as partners in risk management with our clients and convince them that agricultural insurance should be an integral part of their business strategy. We not only presented the insurance services we offer, but also engaged in broader and important conversations on food security, sustainable agriculture, and climate change."

Summarising the success of the outreach efforts in Singapore, Mexico City, Winnipeg, Barcelona and Geneva, Bernard added: "Some direct benefits of these efforts are immediately obvious - we managed to acquire some new business. More importantly, though, we started building some new relationships and also learned a lot about the needs and concerns of our present and potential clients. We also strengthened our links to the public sector, academia and media. This is invaluable for growing our business and reputation further in 2016."

What follows is a snapshot of the events highlighting key topics discussed in various agricultural markets.

Asia Pacific

Clients and brokers attended an event in Singapore focusing on food security in the Asian markets. Stephane Baldanoff, Managing Director for food and agribusiness practice at JLT Asia, was invited as a keynote speaker to talk about the changing demographics affecting the agricultural value chain in Asia. He explained that, as the Asian middle class grows, the population's traditional diets change to include more protein. This leads to a significant increase in the consumption of grain (which is also used to feed cattle), and so crop shortfall protection becomes more important. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions experts also discussed how the increasing number of catastrophic weather events in Asia can lead to dramatic agricultural losses and what can be done to manage this risk.

The participants in the event also noted particular vulnerability of South-East Asia in comparison to the more mature markets such as China or Australia. In South-East Asia, the concept of agricultural insurance is still a novelty, and this issue needs to be addressed by all stakeholders at the highest political level in the region.

Would you like more information about the event and the products and services we offer in Asia Pacific? Please contact Jeffrey Khoo or Gyana Ranjan Das, Senior Originators Food and Agriculture.


Representatives from the Mexican government, corporate clients and brokers attended our client event "Natural phenomena and their impact on grain production in Mexico" in Mexico City. The event was an example of efficient collaboration between the public and private sectors in agriculture.

Participants discussed the impact of future weather events with one of the keynote speakers, Juan Manuel Caballero González from the National Weather Service. He spoke about Hurricane Patricia and the forecast for rainfall, temperature, drought, tropical cyclones, El Niño phenomenon and possible impacts on México. Ing. Artemio Coutiño from the Ministry of Agriculture discussed the Natural Catastrophic Component and the new covers for aquaculture, fisheries, and beehives. Juan Miguel Adaya from the Ministry of Finance presented the structure of the Mexican insurance market and the subsidy programmes available for the agricultural sector. He mentioned that the federal government would like to see more collaboration with the private sector and further innovation in risk transfer solutions.

José Cullen, Head Agro South America at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, spoke specifically about the challenges and opportunities in the Brazilian market. Raúl González, Senior Originator Food and Agriculture, presented crop shortfall and crop revenue cover products available for the agricultural sector in Latin America.

Would you like more information about the event and the products and services we offer in Latin America? Please contact Jose Cullen, Head of Agro Brasil, or Raúl González, Senior Originator Food and Agriculture.


Over 40 representatives of the Canadian grain industry and of grain processing companies and agricultural insurance brokers attended our client event in Winnipeg, Canada. Our team engaged Dr John Antle, from Oregon State University, as a keynote speaker to discuss sustainable food security challenges.

The North American agribusiness supply chain is also affected by a number of risk factors, among them the volatile demand for crops and unstable weather. Bernard Belk and Clark Luby (Head of Canadian Sales) and Tom Neher (Senior Originator Food and Agriculture) presented crop shortfall and weather risk covers to explain how Swiss Re Corporate Solutions can help protect their business. We were also a sponsor and exhibitor at the North American Cereals Conference in Winnipeg.

Would you like more information about the event and the products and services we offer in North America? Please contact Tom Neher, Senior Originator Food and Agriculture. Elliot Konschak can also be contacted in relation to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) in the USA.


An exclusive expert seminar, "Ecologically intensive agriculture - new risk or real business opportunity for the agricultural industry?", was held in the course of the 55th European Commodities Exchange (ECE) in Barcelona, Spain.

Keynote speakers Michel Griffon, Chairman of the International Association for Ecologically Intensive Agriculture, and Pilar Gimenez, Syngenta’s Head of Corporate Affairs for Iberia, spoke about the trend for "greening" of the agricultural industry and how all players along the supply chain could adapt. According to Michel Griffon, an intensive agricultural production and protecting the environment are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. He explained how farming can be ecological and economically viable at the same time. Pilar Gimenez shared her company's views on sustainable intensive agriculture, explaining how it could improve the efficiency of crops, promote biodiversity and embrace new technology and innovation.

We also were an exhibitor at the European Commodities Exchange event, explaining our insurance products and services to all companies active in the grain trading business.

Would you like more information about the event and the products and services we offer in Europe? Please contact Erik Payen or Rolando Rivera, Senior Originators Food and Agriculture.


The annual Global Grain event in Geneva, Switzerland is considered to be the world's largest gathering of grain industry professionals. Bernard Belk joined a panel discussion on risk mitigation to talk about various strategies and solutions available to the agricultural sector in the current volatile market. "As we observe the increase in severity and frequency of extreme weather events across the globe, we emphasise to our clients the need to further diversify their risks. Not only farmers need agricultural insurance in order to protect themselves from huge unpredictable disruptions, but also all players in the agricultural value chain, including commodity banks, traders, cargo companies, millers and crushers, input suppliers, and governments too. As supply chains become increasingly global, they need to pay attention to diversifying not only within one country, but also across regions and even continents. The residual risk can then be off-loaded to the insurance industry", he said.

We were also a sponsor and exhibitor at the Global Grain, which this year had particularly strong representation from the countries of the Black Sea region. We invited our visitors to test their agricultural knowledge and luck by participating in a quiz, which gave them a chance to win an iPad. The winner of our quiz is Gulsen Goozal of Etsun, an international trading company based in Turkey.

Would you like more information about the event and the products and services we offer in the Black Sea region? Please contact Oleksandr Artiushyn, Senior Originators Food and Agriculture.

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