Sustainable farming

Within Sustainable farming:

The topic ‘Sustainable farming’ is part of our strengthened sustainability strategy, containing topics and targets which are important for sustainable food production and consumption. We intend to bring transparency and sustainability agendas together and thus offer our stakeholders and especially the consumer the possibility of making an informed choice. This means consumers will be able to choose using information not only based on animal welfare, but also on sustainability. We will provide consumers with information on topics such as the carbon footprint on food items like pork, beef, and meat alternatives.

Carbon footprint

Because of meat’s high nutritional value, within the consumption of food of animal origin, pork and poultry originating from the Netherlands and Germany is a climate-friendly way to meet consumer’s protein needs. This meat has a similar CO2 footprint to tofu (see figure), although its nutritional value for humans is much higher. With regard to beef production, methane emissions from rumination and manure cause substantial greenhouse gas emissions. Vion mainly slaughters dairy cattle and the offspring of dairy cattle which are essentially by-products of dairy production, making the CO2 footprint substantially lower than that of beef from pure meat breeds. In 2021, Vion calculated the footprint of meat from 10 Dutch dairy farmers. Results show that these Dutch cattle farmers – as with Dutch pig farmers – are in the top 10% of dairy farmers worldwide when it comes to carbon footprint sustainability. Our commitment is to put onto the market food items with a lower carbon footprint than today’s items and to provide information to customers and consumers on the footprints of the products they buy. To achieve this, we are developing a CO2 label for our products based on the actual data from the supply chain. Our objective is to have the first products with CO2 labels on shelves in 2022. We expanded the pool of calculated GHG emissions to 100 farms. The 2022 objective is to calculate the emissions for all of the approximately 160 Good Farming Star farms. In general, we advocate the use of soy certified by Round Table Responsible Soy (RTRS). The RTRS certification includes strict requirements on the preservation of natural forests and other natural resources. More specifically, all pigs raised under our Good Farming Star programme are fed with RTRS certified soy. Furthermore, Vion is working together with dedicated partners to develop the infrastructure that assures the use of soy from fields that were not associated with deforestation (Identity Preserved soy).

Overall, the environmental footprint of pork is lower than that of beef, as ruminants emit more greenhouse gasses, including methane

Biodiversity

Within dairy farming, there is growing attention on improving biodiversity. Many Dutch dairy cattle farmers are using the biodiversity monitor – a tool which monitors positive and negative impact on biodiversity. Based on this assessment, a location-specific biodiversity plan has been implemented on farms.

News & Stories

News
20 June 2022 Vion announces Business Unit Pork management change
Press release
03 June 2022 Vion Innovations presented at the PLMA
Press release
17 May 2022 ‘ME-AT the alternative’ launches first locally grown protein chain
Press release
16 May 2022 First Belgian pigs delivered to organic meat producer De Groene Weg
News
16 May 2022 Vion sponsors food packages for refugees from Ukraine 
Press release
07 April 2022 Sustainable chains are the future
News
24 March 2022 Turbulent year for Vion due to difficult market conditions
Stories
01 March 2022 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
Press release
01 March 2022 Vion Boxtel puts three electric terminal tractors into use
News
21 December 2021 Vion introduces virtual cow glasses for animal welfare
News
01 December 2021 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
News
25 November 2021 Vion takes the next step to further reduce its CO2 emissions in food logistics significantly
News
17 November 2021 World Steak Challenge – Vion wins two gold and five silver
News
11 November 2021 Straw for better pig welfare
News
14 October 2021 Vion appoints Tjarda Klimp as CFO

Determining the best method of calculating the carbon footprint of meat

Vion is committed to a calculation methodology developed by Wageningen University. The practical implementation of food print calculations requires raw data from supply chain partners such as farms and feed suppliers through a robust and reliable data infrastructure. In 2021, we implemented the methodology for pork as an automated calculation system and received data from 45 farms.

Continuous improvement in sustainability at our organic pig farms

All our organic pig farmers with De Groene Weg are EKO-certified and use the EKO-code as a scoring instrument on twelve topics, including energy, soil, manure, biodiversity and circularity. Each supplier is expected to set at least two objectives every year, resulting in a higher score in the next year. This approach ensures the continuous improvement of sustainability in the organic pork supply chain of De Groene Weg.

All our organic pig farmers with De Groene Weg are EKO-certified

Dialogue with stakeholders

Together with industry partners, Vion discusses possible solutions to a variety of environmental topics. For example, Vion was a partner in the workgroup initiated by the Dutch government on the reporting of carbon footprints for food in the Netherlands. The output of the workgroup was a project team which will take the lead when it comes to changes in favour of sustainable farming.

News & Stories

News
20 June 2022 Vion announces Business Unit Pork management change
Press release
03 June 2022 Vion Innovations presented at the PLMA
Press release
17 May 2022 ‘ME-AT the alternative’ launches first locally grown protein chain
Press release
16 May 2022 First Belgian pigs delivered to organic meat producer De Groene Weg
News
16 May 2022 Vion sponsors food packages for refugees from Ukraine 
Press release
07 April 2022 Sustainable chains are the future
News
24 March 2022 Turbulent year for Vion due to difficult market conditions
Stories
01 March 2022 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
Press release
01 March 2022 Vion Boxtel puts three electric terminal tractors into use
News
21 December 2021 Vion introduces virtual cow glasses for animal welfare
News
01 December 2021 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
News
25 November 2021 Vion takes the next step to further reduce its CO2 emissions in food logistics significantly
News
17 November 2021 World Steak Challenge – Vion wins two gold and five silver
News
11 November 2021 Straw for better pig welfare
News
14 October 2021 Vion appoints Tjarda Klimp as CFO
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain Contribution to CO2 emissions from cultivation and production of feed
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain
    2021 60 %
    2021 43 %
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain Contribution to CO2e emissions from enteric fermentation on farm (CH4)
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain
    2021 8 %
    2021 40 %
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain Contribution to CO2e emissions from manure on farm (CH4 and N2O)
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain
    2021 30 %
    2021 13 %
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain Contribution to CO2 emissions from slaughter
    Contribution to CO2e emissions throughout the pork and beef supply chain
    2021 1 %
    2021 1 %

    Clarification of the results

    The results shown above are based on the data of 15 pork farms and 10 dairy farms. Vion did not achieve its 2021 goal of calculating GHG emissions for 160 farmers. This was because data from the farms were not yet fully disclosed by the end of 2021. The relevant data were received in Q1 of 2022 and calculations are ongoing at the time this report is being published. In 2022, we aim to calculate the emissions of 160 Good Farming Star pig farms plus 40 cattle farms.

    News & stories

    News
    20 June 2022 Vion announces Business Unit Pork management change
    Press release
    03 June 2022 Vion Innovations presented at the PLMA
    Press release
    17 May 2022 ‘ME-AT the alternative’ launches first locally grown protein chain
    Press release
    16 May 2022 First Belgian pigs delivered to organic meat producer De Groene Weg
    News
    16 May 2022 Vion sponsors food packages for refugees from Ukraine 
    Press release
    07 April 2022 Sustainable chains are the future
    News
    24 March 2022 Turbulent year for Vion due to difficult market conditions
    Stories
    01 March 2022 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
    Press release
    01 March 2022 Vion Boxtel puts three electric terminal tractors into use
    News
    21 December 2021 Vion introduces virtual cow glasses for animal welfare
    News
    01 December 2021 Vion leader in sector for food and drink companies
    News
    25 November 2021 Vion takes the next step to further reduce its CO2 emissions in food logistics significantly
    News
    17 November 2021 World Steak Challenge – Vion wins two gold and five silver
    News
    11 November 2021 Straw for better pig welfare
    News
    14 October 2021 Vion appoints Tjarda Klimp as CFO