Our strategy: Building Balanced Chains

To live up to our purpose of providing Food that Matters, Vion’s strategy is to Build Balanced Chains (BBC) to offer safe, healthy, tasty food while creating value across a future-proof ecosystem.

Balanced chains are demand driven food chains with:
Farm management optimisation: making relevant data available to farmers for optimising their management and improving animal welfare, efficiency and environmental effects.
Protein valorisation.
Product specialisation: unique concepts and product innovations that tap into prevailing consumer trends.

The very best products, fresh on your plate, demand supply chains that are as short as possible. This helps to get the best products into shops in the best possible way.

In our CSR report, you can read more about our strategy Building Balanced Chains.

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 18 relevant topics: 11 social topics, 5 environmental topics, and 2 economic topics.

To define the material topics out of all 18 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 nine topics that ended up in the upper right corner of the materiality matrix are the material topics for Vion and its stakeholders. Of the nine material topics for which we strive to minimise negative impact or optimise positive impact, the following five topics are the most crucial for the day-to-day success of our business.

 

In our CSR report we share our approach to all these CSR 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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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. Vion intends to bring transparency and sustainability agendas together and 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. Vion will provide consumers with information on topics such as the carbon footprint on food items like pork, beef and meat alternatives.

"Consumers will be able to choose using information based on animal welfare and sustainability"

"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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Fair pricing

Fair prices are important for stability in the supply chain and therefore ultimately important for all supply chain partners. As a central player in the supply chain, Vion has an influence on the structural development of supply chains, in order to support a fair distribution of value in the production supply chain, and to steer volatility. We cooperate intensively with both our customers (retail, processors, and food services) and farmers to develop innovative and sustainable pricing models.

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"Fair prices are important for stability in the supply chain"

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 2019 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.

Meet our supply chain partners

Our new strategy focuses on Building Balanced Chains. We are working on strengthening existing supply chains and building new ones. Discover a few of our supply chains and supply chain partners.

Supply chain of the future: ME-AT

Global demand for alternative proteins is growing. People are making more conscious choices in their diet and often choose to eat less meat or none at all. They are also becoming increasingly aware of how their food choices impact the climate and animal welfare.That is why, in 2019, Vion took a remarkable step. In addition to the sustainable production of traditional meat, the company will also market high-quality meat alternatives under the name ME-AT.

De Groene Weg

De Groene Weg is the Vion subsidiary which focuses exclusively on the purchase, production and exploitation of organic meat. For almost forty years, the company has worked in the field of pork from a demand-driven, closed chain. Three links in the chain tell their story: pig farmer Johan Walvoort, De Groene Weg Livestock Manager Jan Leeijen, and Geert van Wersch from sausage maker Brandt & Levie.

Geprüfte Qualität Bayern beef

For several years now, there has been a well-established example of a functioning meat production chain in Bavaria, Germany. Regarding the ‘Simmental Fleckvieh’ cattle breed, Vion Waldkraiburg cooperates with two regional producers’ associations, whose farmers deliver their animals to the cattle farm in Waldkraiburg. All animals have the Bavarian ‘Geprüfte Qualitat Bayern’ certification (GQ-Bayern). Through a regional quality and traceability program, Vion has managed to form a closed chain, from the farmer and the meat trade to retail and the consumer, based on the principles of animal welfare, sustainability and regionality.

Burger King, a Food Service partner

Every day, more than 11 million guests visit BURGER KING® restaurants around the world. Founded in 1954, BURGER KING® is the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world. It is part of RBI (Restaurant Brands International Inc.), a Canadian multinational fast food holding company. BURGER KING® is one of Vion Food Service’s chain partners.

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