Our vision on corporate social responsibility

Vion has been engaged in corporate social responsibility for quite some years. Whereas food safety is a condition sine qua non, we sincerely aspire to produce meat respecting animal welfare and a sustainable environment.

Food in general and meat in particular is a popular subject of numerous societal debates. These debates can be grouped into four major themes:

  • animal welfare (at farm and post-farm gate)
  • supply chain (related issues such as traceability, transparency and product integrity)
  • the environmental impact of meat production
  • human health

At Vion, we have decided not to shy away from these debates, but to participate actively in the societal dialogue on these relevant themes. We intend to stimulate the discussion with, and the creativity of our stakeholders on these relevant items. Together, we want to develop solutions to guide our industry to implement best practices.

In our CSR report, you can read more about our CSR strategy and the measures we take.

How we create value

Our value creation model shows how we create value and work on a sustainable future.

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Our corporate social responsibility topics

With regard to our business, and the effect of other companies in the supply chain on our business, we have developed a list of the relevant CSR topics for Vion. We listed 30 relevant topics: 18 social topics, 9 environmental topics, and 3 economic topics.

To define the material topics out of all 30 relevant topics, we performed a materiality analysis. We evaluated each topic based on two dimensions:

  1. The extent to which the topic has an influence on the assessments and decisions of stakeholders (y-axis of the matrix)
  2. The significance of Vion’s social, environmental and economic impact on that topic. For the second dimension, we defined how much of an impact Vion can have on each topic, by itself or by influencing other stakeholders (x-axis of the matrix)

and plotted them in a materiality matrix.

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The seventeen topics that ended up in the upper right corner of the materiality matrix are the most material topics for Vion and our stakeholders. In our CSR report we share our approach to all CSR topics. Within the material topics, our strategy prioritises four topics:

Food safety

Each day, 100 million consumers have a meal with some ‘Vion inside’. It goes without saying that these products need to be safe and wholesome. Our primary responsibility, therefore, is to guarantee the safety of all our products, in all aspects.

To safeguard our production processes, Vion is continuously investing in its infrastructure and rigorous quality systems. We apply strict procedures, supporting different independent certification schemes to improve food safety management – such as IFS, BRC, IKB, QS, GlobalGap and Organic.

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"Each day, 100 million consumers have a meal with some Vion inside"

"It is our duty to handle the animals respectfully"

Animal welfare

Each day, we handle thousands of animals. It is our duty to handle these animals respectfully. To guarantee animal welfare, we invest in the necessary infrastructure, training our employees and installing supervision technology such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV).

Animal welfare in transportation
Having a slaughterhouse network of appropriately-sized locations in relation to the livestock density in a given region, enables short animal transportation distances with below 8 hours of transportation time. We also control animal welfare by investing in modern animal transport vehicles and conducting standardised transport checks at every unloading point. Also, external veterinarians inspect all animals at the time of unloading.

Animal welfare in slaughtering
At our slaughterhouses we control animal welfare by, among others, training and educating all of our employees that work with livestock. Specially trained animal welfare officers ensure that the guidelines are adhered to, they receive biannual training. During working hours, the lairage, stunning and slaughter areas are under continuous supervision by at least one official veterinarian.

Furthermore, Vion’s veterinary expert team evaluates the performance of the slaughterhouses and the supplying farms. The animal welfare outcome data is reported to our executive committee. In the case of non-conformities, the responsible people have to take corrective and preventive actions.

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Transparency

Vion aims to be a leader in the meat industry regarding transparency. In 2014, we were the first to publish the official veterinary audits on our website; in 2016 we were again the first to launch a transparency website. In 2017 we have launched the Dutch transparency website. Our transparency websites provide insights into our production processes, including movies, photos and text. On these websites we also communicate the results of official ante and post mortem meat inspections, as well as the independent quality assurance audits from our production plants.

"To provide insights to consumers, we work together with our suppliers and customers"

Traceability and product integrity

All animals that arrive at Vion are clearly marked by ear tags or other unique identification. Their labels and the underlying databases allow traceability to the place of birth for all the pigs and cattle. After slaughter, the carcasses and deboned products are bundled into batches with similar traits, like: country or region of origin, quality programmes, breeds and/or production dates. All of Vion’s external sold volume is traceable to a small group of livestock farmers.

Product integrity and the correct labelling of products are needed to be a trustworthy supplier. To ensure product integrity Vion uses different systems like NEN-ISO and IFS Food. We have integrated, and will roll out further, specific integrity standards such as Orgainvent and the CBL integrity standard in our processing facilities.

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CSR report

Realising that the meat industry was the subject of important societal debates, Vion has been engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) since quite a few years.

In April 2017, we published our first CSR report. This report was tangible proof of our comprehensive reflection on the major themes in the European meat industry. In November 2017 we were awarded one of the three Crystal prizes by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, being the fastest climber on the Transparency Benchmark.

In 2018, Vion again moved up a level on the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, ending up on level 2. This benchmark evaluates the world’s leading food producers, retailers and food service companies on their management and transparency in the area of animal welfare. As Vion is continuously improving in this area, this leading international business benchmark is great recognition for all the efforts Vion’s employees have made regarding animal welfare.

In our 2018 report, concrete results achieved in major topics that are relevant to the future of the meat chain are shared. It is the way forward to Building Balanced Chains (BBC), in which aspects of sustainability are linked to the product in the supply chain to the consumer.

Stakeholder dialogues

Vion does not shy away from the numerous societal debates but participates in them. We are open to conversation and the exchange of knowledge and stimulate discussions with stakeholders.

Bernd Maiweg

German Trade Union NGG (Gewerkschaft Nahrung, Genuss Gaststätten)

“Vion was very helpful in the past”

As trade unionist, Bernd Maiweg is not exactly one of those for whom the doors are wide open at meat sector companies. However, part of Vion’s corporate strategy includes the entering into dialogue with critics. Opening the door, sitting down at a table, exchanging arguments and seeking solutions together is indispensable for the cooperation between the employees and the enterprise, in the opinion of HR manager Roger Legath: ‘We must move forward together’.

 

Louise Fresco

Agriculture- and food expert, chairman executive board Wageningen University & Research

“Livestock farming is important in sustainable use of the planet because grazers are able to produce proteins”

Humans are omnivores and we have the ability to get all the nutrients we need from numerous types of food. Meat has numerous useful nutrients and micronutrients. Moreover, products that are of animal origin are a source of a number of vitamins that humans are unable to get from other foods.

Hans Huijbers

President of ZLTO (southern Netherlands agricultural and horticultural organisation)

“Together we have a responsibility to offer wholesome meat produced and sold at a sustainable price”

Jaap Kreuger

Chairman of Good Farming Star pig farmers suppliers’ association

“We are now at 1 star Beter Leven keurmerk, but what’s the next step?”

Matthias Wolfschmidt

Veterinarian and vice president of Foodwatch

“Consumers will have to pay for optimum conditions in livestock breeding”

The veterinarian Matthias Wolfschmidt is one of the managers of Foodwatch (NGO focusing on consumer protection, food production and retail). He has made various accusations against the food industry, with statements like ‘one in every four animal products originates from an unhealthy animal’, and he has now published his provocative allegations in a book titled ‘Das Schweinesystem’.

Thomas Schröder

President of Deutscher Tierschutzbund

“My respect for the farmers who have implemented the label has grown”

The German animal welfare organisation, Deutscher Tierschutzbund, is the major proponent of more animal protection in livestock husbandry. Without this organisation, and its motto of ‘animal welfare with your heart and mind’, German agriculture would not have reached the level where it is right now.

Josef Schöberl

Beef farmer and Vion supplier (Bavaria, Germany)

“The Simmentaler breed of cow is perfectly suited for both the dairy and the meat industry”

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