Responsible growth is core to our business strategy. Our responsibility towards the local communities where we operate, our global customers, our employees and the environment, is integral to our efforts to achieve our business goals. Sustainable business practices govern our operations around the world.
I am encouraged that our commitment is widely shared by many of our customers, suppliers, shareholders and employees. In 2011, the annual Top of Mind Survey conducted in 45 countries by the global Consumer Goods Forum found that corporate social responsibility is now the number one concern of many companies. For the sake of today’s and future generations, it is encouraging to know that CSR is gaining priority in the business world.
Demographic forecasts underline the challenges ahead, with predictions of an additional two billion people on our planet by 2030. In addition, global average calorific consumption per head of population is expected to increase, leading to pressure on our global natural resources and with consequences for global warming. This emphasises even further the need for business to step up its commitment to optimal resource utilisation with minimal waste and emissions.
In this – our third – Sustainability report, we share with you our sustainability efforts over the past year. The ten principles of the UN Global Compact continue to provide the framework for our CSR work. As a strong supporter of the Global Compact, we also encourage our business partners to integrate its principles in their business activities.
Among our important business achievements over the last 12 months are the acquisitions of Golden Foods/Golden Brands and Oasis Food Company in the US and Crown Foods A/S in Denmark – reputable companies that strengthen our position considerably within flaked shortenings and the food service markets.
Implementation of our Code of Conduct is already underway at these sites to ensure the same principles for responsible business are applied throughout our organisation.
While we have grown our business and pursued our strategy to develop our sales of more speciality products, we have also managed to achieve nearly all of our 2011 CSR objectives.
Our enhanced resource efficiency is reflected in our environmental performance consumption, CO2 emissions, water discharge and landfill waste have all gone down, even with our successful speciality strategy, selling and producing more refined solutions for our customers.
Speciality products are more “production
intense”, which would normally resulted in significantly increased resource consumption and emissions.
For several years we have had a strong focus on reduction of energy consumption through investments in new technology. For example at our Karlshamn site, we have reduced our mineral fuel consumption to almost zero, replacing it with bio-fuel, reducing our
carbon dioxide emissions from 40 000 tons/ year to 6-7000 tons/year. For these achievements we recently received the E-prize, which is awarded by the Swedish business weekly magazine Veckans Affärer, in collaboration with the energy company E.ON. This prize is awarded to companies that combine energy efficiency and economy in order to reduce their environmental impact, cut costs and increase competitiveness.
Employee safety is a top priority within AAK. We are committed to ensure that our employees stay safe and healthy while performing their very professional daily work for our company. By a strong safety focus we have managed to maintain a low level of work-related injuries. We are also convinced about the correlations between work safety, productivity, product quality and customer satisfaction. As some of our manufacturing processes will always need a very strong safety attention our efforts will continue to focus on the development of AAK as a safe workplace.
Raw material sourcing is another area where we endeavour to make a clear difference, both to the environment and to the local communities where the raw materials are grown and harvested.
For our shea based products we have for many years been working very closely with local populations in several West African countries and in particular with the women there who gather the wild-growing shea kernels. In March this year we signed a letter of intent with the government of Burkina Faso, with the aim to establish a public-private partnership to expand our work organising and educating local women’s groups. The initiative ultimately targets improved volumes and quality of the raw material and at the same time secures improved living conditions for the women in Burkina Faso. We will increase the number of women involved in this initiative from appr 10,000 to 30,000 over two years.
At our side in this important work we have the globally leading beauty and personal care company L´Oréal, which actively supports this initiative through an agreement confirming continuing supply this project until at least 2014.
We have high expectations this agreement will bring us closer to an even more sustainable and effective supply chain along with our other activities to secure responsible supplies of strategic raw materials, and to improve volumes and quality.
Building on progress
The significant progress of the past year makes it a great pleasure for AAK to present this Sustainability report.
In the year ahead, we will execute our business strategy and underlying, AAK Acceleration program with a continuing a strong focus
resource efficiencies, employee safety and on sustainable raw materials. Corporate Social Responsibility remains at the core of AAK.