Cargill’s President in China and Managing Director for the company’s agriculture business for North Asia, Robert Aspell, has received the highly coveted Shanghai Magnolia Gold Award for 2017 in recognition of the outstanding professional and personal contributions he has made to the development of the city of Shanghai. Joined by 10 other recipients, Aspell received the award from the mayor of Shanghai, Mr. Ying Yong during an award ceremony held in Shanghai.

Named after the city flower, the Magnolia Gold Award is created by Shanghai municipal government in 1989 to recognize foreigners who have contributed to the social and economic development of Shanghai, and is given only to a few recipients - each year.

On receiving the award, Aspell said, “Thank you Shanghai for this tremendous honor. I am humbled to receive the award from this great city. This award is not just for me. More importantly, it is a recognition of Cargill and all of our associates in China. Cargill’s purpose is to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way, and Shanghai, where we have established our China headquarters, plays a vital role as we work together with our many partners to provide safe and nutritious food to Chinese consumers. And I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the Jing’an District for the strong support that Cargill has received over the years. We are committed to the country and will continue to invest in Shanghai and China.”

Aspell has lived in Shanghai since 2005 and he became President of Cargill in China in 2009. Under his leadership, Cargill has doubled its investment in China in the past seven years. The company today is present in more than 50 locations across China and employs more than 10,000 people. Shanghai has functioned as a cornerstone and hub as Aspell and his China team endeavor to drive Cargill’s growth in China and its integration with China’s economy.


In 2016, Cargill chose Shanghai to launch its first innovation center in Asia. The innovation center brings together the expertise of Cargill’s multiple businesses and offers one-stop consultancy to food companies to help them meet consumer’s evolving needs for nutrition and flavors. As a leading player in the agriculture and food industry, Cargill brings some of its most cutting edge innovations and makes Shanghai a critical part of its global innovation system. 

In addition, Aspell has led Cargill’s efforts to drive sustainability in agriculture and to enrich the communities where the company operates. In 2017, Cargill’s two programs on sustainable agriculture and environmental protection were chosen as "Outstanding Environmental Protection Cases" by Jing'an District of Shanghai. In the same year, Cargill funded a chorus of physically-challenged children in Jing’an District to help them enjoy music and live a happy life.

At a national level, Cargill won the Best Volunteer Service Award” in 2017 China Corporate Social Responsibility Conference organized by Southern Weekly. China Corporate Social Responsibility Conference is one of the most influential corporate social responsibility programs in China. The 45 Cargill Cares Councils (CCCs) across the country have carried out various activities and contributed around 240,000 volunteer hours to community enrichment by the end of 2016.

Aspell has made a lot of efforts also to facilitate Shanghai’s cultural exchange with the rest of the world. During the Shanghai Expo in 2010, he took the lead to raise funds for the opening of the USA Pavilion. Being an avid hockey lover himself, he initiated the Shanghai Youth Ice Hockey program in 2006 and volunteered to be a coach, making sport a platform to connect the younger generations of Shanghai with those from the overseas.