Ronald Lotgerink, CEO of Vion: “This past year we have worked hard to build transparent and sustainable food chains together with our chain partners. We call this Building Balanced Chains (BBC). Our company is at the midpoint of the chain, between farmer and buyer, and together we know what is needed to meet customer demand. This demand is fuelled by social developments, such as a growing demand for organic meat and plant-based alternatives, animal-friendly measures on the farm, greater visibility of animal welfare in the abattoir, solutions to climate issues, more biodiversity and sustainable soya in animal feed. We integrate these developments in our BBC chains as key focal points and guidelines for our people and processes.”
Vion’s report focuses on building sustainable food chains in which chain partners such as feed manufacturers, farmers, carriers, abattoirs and buyers exchange information. For instance, on the origin of the animals, animal welfare, health, animal feed, food safety and sustainability. This digital chain information is processed using modern blockchain technology, which results in a fully transparent way of working. This is instrumental in creating trust between chain partners and consumers. The information gives consumers more insight into the source and quality of the product, for example, enabling them to make well-informed choices.
Vion’s sustainability ambitions
In its report, Vion underlines its ambition to bring the CO2 emissions of the company and its products in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal and to be emission-free by 2045. Vion has also committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and wants to substantially reduce its overall energy consumption and increase the use of green energy in the coming years. In terms of its own consumption and emissions, Vion is taking the necessary measures to become sustainable in the short term. To reduce CO2 emissions in the chain, such as from animal feed and the purchase of animals from suppliers, Vion will work closely with chain partners, including feed manufacturers and livestock farmers.
Six strategic themes
Vion is focusing on six strategic themes: food safety, animal welfare, sustainable farming, traceability and product integrity, employment and working conditions and fair pricing. The starting points for all these themes are transparency, cooperation with partners, and thorough scientific research.
In recent years, relevant CO2 emission data have been collected in partnership with Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and a number of agricultural companies. Vion uses these data to calculate the carbon footprint of meat and then communicate this product information in the chain, to buyers and consumers as well as primary producers, such as farmers, to enable them to improve.
Vion is also taking the next step in plant-based meat substitutes with the concept “ME-AT the alternative”. The company is using more plant-based proteins from home soil instead of soya, which often comes from outside the Netherlands. Together with the farmers’ organisation ZLTO, Agrifirm and Herba Ingredients, this contributes to the plant-based protein transition from our own soil, creating a more sustainable food chain, and the first products are already in the shops.
Since October 2021, Vion has held first place in the food and beverage sector for the Transparency Benchmark, in which 500 of the largest companies in the Netherlands participated. Vion has steadily risen up through the ranks of this benchmark since publication of its first corporate social responsibility report in 2017.
CSR report 2021
The CSR report 2021 is available via this link.