Ball Corporation, Chipotle and Brightseed celebrated during Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Summit

NEW YORK (December 2, 2021) – Rabobank, a leading global food and agribusiness (F&A) bank, today announced the recipients of its annual Rabobank North America Leadership Awards. The awards celebrate both large companies and fast-growing emerging businesses that demonstrate remarkable industry stewardship, sustainability, and innovation within the F&A industry in North America.

Finalists were reviewed by an independent panel of judges across industry, academia, non-profits, media, and the investment community. Recipients were determined based on a variety of criteria specific to each award.

The three winning companies received their awards during Rabobank’s annual Food & Agribusiness Summit today in New York City.

“The Leadership Awards celebrate businesses that are models of leadership, sustainable practices and innovation — the very areas we all need to prioritize in this continuing time of great change,” said Paul Beiboer, CEO, Rabobank North America. “Today’s award honorees have the agility needed to lead their industries forward and exemplify how companies can continue to innovate and re-evaluate the impact they have on the world.”

Rabobank Award for Excellence in Food & Ag Leadership

This award recognizes a large-scale market leader in North America that has demonstrated great and lasting impact in its sector.

The winner of the Rabobank Award for Excellence in Food & Ag Leadership for 2021 is Ball Corporation, a leading global provider of aluminum packaging. Ball has committed to leading the way on innovation and environmental stewardship during a period of accelerated supply chain disruption. The company’s infinitely recyclable aluminum packaging — including the sturdy, lightweight Ball Aluminum Cup — is an accomplishment which represents strong industry leadership. The company has a clear commitment to local communities and has also successfully met multiple environmentally-focused goals including:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint of beverage cans from 2010 baseline by 25% (exceeded at 26%)
  • Improving energy efficiency from 2016 baseline by 5% (exceeded at 5.5%)
  • Improving water efficiency from 2016 baseline by 5% (exceeded at 11%)


Ball Corporation was the first can manufacturer to receive an Aluminum Stewardship Initiative certification, covering all 23 of its EMEA plants, and launched “Towards a Perfect Circle,” a collaborative industry initiative dedicated to expanding global recycled aluminum content by 85% by 2030.

“On behalf of our 24,000 employees, thank you to Rabobank for this award,” said John A. Hayes, CEO, Ball Corporation. “Over our nearly 142-year history, Ball has always tried to be sustainable even if we did not call it that. Today, the intersection of our environmental, economic and social sustainability pillars is where we will build our future for all. Sustainability is embedded in the fabric of our culture and it is who we are as a company.”

Rabobank Award for Leadership in Sustainability

This award celebrates a high-impact organization that has achieved unique steps toward business, environmental, social and governance sustainability.

The recipient of the 2021 Rabobank Award for Leadership in Sustainability is Chipotle Mexican Grill, a fast-casual restaurant chain, specializing in tacos and burritos. Through its mission of: Real Ingredients. Real Purpose. Real Flavor, Chipotle launched Real Foodprint, a sustainability impact tracker highlighting data on impact and sourcing for all of Chipotle’s 53 ingredients. The company-wide commitment to sustainability is evident by achievements across 2020 goals, including:

  • A 51% waste diversion rate through composting, recycling, and waste-to-energy programs
  • Installing an Energy Management System at all applicable restaurants
  • Purchasing 22% of all its electricity from renewable sources


Chipotle also runs an accelerator program through the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation called the Aluminaries Project, which is designed to support growth-stage ventures contributing to a sustainable and equitable food system.

“It is a true honor to receive this award as sustainability is – and always will be – a strategic priority for Chipotle,” said Jack Hartung, CFO, Chipotle. “We are committed to being leaders in the space and continue to seek innovative solutions to propel the company’s mission of Cultivating A Better World. How we grow our food is how we grow our future, and we’ll push boundaries to demonstrate real meaningful action and measurable change for people, animals, and the planet.”

Rabobank Award for Emerging Leadership in Innovation

This award honors a fast-growing young company that addresses issues in the food and agribusiness space in a new and innovative way.

The 2021 Rabobank Award for Emerging Leadership in Innovation was presented to Brightseed. The company’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) platform, Forager®, is mapping the expansive world of plant bioactives and understanding which of them have the greatest impact on human health.

Forager has already analyzed approximately 1.2 million compounds in the edible and medicinal plant kingdom for health properties and is on track to surpass 10 million by 2025. Founded in 2017, Brightseed is committed to enabling a healthier future by illuminating and activating the biological connections between plants and people, and Forager is generating the world’s largest digital map detailing the interaction of plant bioactives with human biological systems.

Brightseed believes this discovery of bioactive compounds hidden in plants can drive better nutrition policy and improve overall health outcomes while advocating for greater investment of A.I. applied in nutrition science.

“I want to thank Rabobank for this award on behalf of every member of the Brightseed team,” said Sofia Elizondo, co-founder and COO, Brightseed. “Bioactives play a major role in maintaining human health, yet science only understands a small percentage of existing plant compounds. If food and health industries expect to be truly innovative into the next decade, it has to look deeper into the natural world. Our A.I. platform, Forager, can offer data-driven predictions about where to look and why — providing healthcare with a blueprint for countless new natural wellness solutions.”

About Rabobank

Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, leasing, and real estate services in more than 38 countries worldwide. Founded over a century ago, Rabobank today is one of the world’s largest banks with over $765 billion in assets. In the Americas, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, agribusiness and beverage industry, providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. Additional information is available on our website or on our social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

Rabobank is also creating a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation with food and agriculture startups, leading companies and investors who want to feed the world sustainably through its FoodBytes! platform. Learn more at or on FoodBytes! social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Twitter.

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