Taking responsibility for generations

After 2015 and 2017 Hochland Deutschland GmbH has published its third sustainability report. Under the title "Responsibility for Generations", the family-owned company based in Allgäu region presents its most important challenges and goals in terms of sustainability as well as the measures that have been taken in the years 2017 to 2019 to achieve these goals. The cheese producer aspires to "do the right thing and act responsibly", as the foreword states. "We know that we can only be economically successful in the long term if we also act in an ecologically and socially sensible manner", says Volker Brütting, one of three General Managers of Hochland Deutschland.

The 70+ page report is clearly divided into the chapters "Corporate Management", "Products", "Environment" and "Employees". In the selection of topics, Hochland is guided by a so-called "materiality matrix", which the sustainability team created in a complex process lasting several months. It includes the expectations of internal and external stakeholders: In a comprehensive stakeholder analysis, employees, shareholders, consumers, suppliers, farmers, politicians and associations, trade partners, NGOs, etc. were interviewed beforehand.

The report also takes into account the contents of the Hochland Business Strategy and addresses other issues that affect not only Hochland but the entire industry. This includes, for example, promoting animal welfare, preserving biodiversity and reducing the amount of plastic in the environment. Hochland has made great progress here in recent years. For example, the company has entered into an agreement with its milk suppliers to refrain from using non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate on their fields and meadows and from fertilizing with fermentation substrates that may contain microplastics. By the end of 2021, Hochland also wants to complete the phase-out of the year-round tethering system with the milk producers for the Schongau plant.

In an ambitious packaging policy, the company has also committed itself to using only recyclable packaging materials by 2025. 30% of packaging should be made of renewable material by then.

Digital report available

For the first time, the report has also been produced in digital form as an Internet microsite, accessible via
www.hochland-group.com/en/sustainability/report

Almost all the pictures show Hochland employees and Hochland events, and the farms shown also belong to Hochland milk suppliers. The photo shootings already took place in 2019, therefore the people pictured do not wear masks.

Report according to GRI standards

The Hochland Sustainability Report 2017 to 2019 was prepared in accordance with the GRI standards "Core" option. It also takes into account the sector-specific supplements for food processing companies. For those who want to get a quick overview, all important key figures are summarized in the appendix.

Hochland makes 2020 their "climate year”

For some years now, a specialized department with three sustainability officers at Hochland has been ensuring that the path of sustainability gradually becomes part of everyday corporate life. They are supported by an interdisciplinary "One-Earth-Team". At the initiative of the sustainability team, Hochland has declared 2020 to be their "climate year". Hochland has compensated for all CO2 emissions for the first time for the year 2018 by paying 140,000 euros for reforestation projects. To this end, the cheese producer works together with "Plant-for-the-Planet". For the "ZNU goes Zero" campaign, the organisation is planting trees on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and promoting renewable energies through certificates. Now the challenge for Hochland is to reduce their own CO2 emissions step by step ‒ by 50% by the year 2025.

A recent step has been the renunciation of feed from overseas, which Hochland has agreed with its farmers and which will apply from July 2020. In doing so, they are jointly addressing the undesirable side effects of importing feedstuffs from overseas: On the one hand, valuable natural areas are being lost for the large-scale cultivation of fodder crops, especially soya, in countries such as Brazil and Argentina. On the other hand, with every kilogram of feed, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are imported into Europe. These nutrients are missing in the exporting countries. The originally fertile soils there are becoming desolate, while a nutrient surplus in many European countries leads to increased nitrate levels in the groundwater. – This is true also in Germany as one of the world's largest importers of soybeans and soy meal.

The challenges and achievements of all these efforts will be reflected in the next report, to be published in 2023 for the reporting period January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022. 

Here you will find the press release for download.

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