MINNEAPOLIS--US agribusiness giant Cargill has selected Weber Shandwick to oversee its effort to become a leading voice in the global debate around food security.

The company handed the brief to the agency following a competitive pitch, first revealed by the Holmes Report last month. Weber Shandwick prevailed against competition from Edelman and Ketchum.

“We were very fortunate to have several highly qualified agencies participate in our review process,” Cargill corporate VP Mike Fernandez told the Holmes Report via email. “Weber Shandwick was selected due to its experience with the issue, the quality of the agency’s proposed recommendations, and its global capabilities.”

The development marks Cargill’s first agency hire for its food security initiative. As one of the world’s biggest producers and marketers of food, Cargill has found itself facing scrutiny of its buying power and role, amid continued food price volatility.

The company, responsible for 22 percent of all US grain export, is calling on governments to collaborate more with industry, and resist protecting their markets. Fernandez previously told the Holmes Report that trade agreements were needed to “allow the free flow of food, so that food is not only accessible but affordable.”

On its website, Cargill describes food security as allowing “people to have physical and economic access to sufficient amounts of safe, nutritious and affordable food that meets their daily caloric and nutritional needs and provides the foundation for an active and healthy life.”

Accordingly, the food security initiative is not thought to be linked to the high-profile meat recalls that Cargill has recently made, following a deadly salmonella outbreak. In a recent interview with the Holmes Report, Fernandez described in detail the lessons he had learned from the ongoing crisis.