The year 2022 was marked by considerable uncertainty and macro-economic challenges. The after-effects of COVID-19 remained, coupled with supply chain issues and rising input costs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had both direct and indirect consequences. Weather events such as record heat waves, droughts and floods also had a far-reaching impact in several countries.
All these factors have affected the global community in different ways, especially with an inflationary environment that is driving food prices and the cost of living up, resulting in food insecurity in many parts of the world.
Against this backdrop, the role of the food industry has become even more important - to feed a growing population sustainably. Being a leading food processing and packaging solutions company, we see ourselves at the forefront, strongly committed to support our customers in keeping food supply chains running, supporting the well-being and welfare of our employees and the communities we operate in, while mitigating our environmental impact.
The current operating environment has emphasised the need for innovative and integrated solutions that can meet the scale and speed of change required to strengthen food security, decarbonise food systems and fight climate change, in a way that leaves no one behind.
Therefore, as part of our continued commitment to the future and in line with our strategic ambition to lead the sustainability transformation within our industry, we have taken a holistic approach across five interconnected and interdependent areas where we can contribute the most: food systems, circularity, climate, nature, and social sustainability.
Towards that end, we have been accelerating our efforts to help build resilient and sustainable food value chains that improve livelihoods, reduce environmental impact, and, ultimately, help provide healthy diets to the global community. For decades, our technology and solutions have contributed to making food accessible even in remote areas with insufficient cold chains, protecting the quality and safety of perishable foods, while extending their shelf life1.
In parallel, we have been investing heavily to significantly enhance the sustainability profile of our packaging and processing solutions. For instance, we plan to invest €100 million annually over the next five to ten years in the research and development of packages that are made with a simplified material structure, to strengthen recyclability and increase renewable content, without compromising on food safety2.
Additionally, we intend to invest up to €40 million annually to increase the collection and recycling of carton packages3 and support the ambition of upcoming regulations to enable a step change in the industry’s transformation.
Decarbonising4 food systems is another critical priority, for which we have taken a complete value chain perspective – from working upstream with our suppliers on raw materials, decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our own operations, to working with customers downstream on the impact of their operations, sold equipment and end-of-life.
Last year, we crossed a new milestone in our journey to develop the world’s most sustainable food package5, by testing a new fibre-based barrier with the aim to substitute the aluminium foil layer – a first within food carton packages distributed under ambient conditions. We made significant progress in our net-zero journey and achieved 39% reduction in GHG in our own operations6 while our efforts to support collection and recycling helped send 1.2 million tonnes7 of carton packages for recycling globally.
Furthermore, to manage and mitigate our impact on nature, we have been collaborating with our suppliers8 and customers to champion responsible sourcing practices, contribute to global water resilience9 as well as conserve and restore ecosystems10.
We remain committed to respecting human rights across our operations and the value chain, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Maintaining focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within our organisation, we continued to progress in several areas – improving women representation in senior positions and in leadership programmes; driving awareness and actions around fostering inclusiveness; initiating and accelerating various programmes to expand our DE&I agenda, going beyond gender and towards securing equal opportunities for all.
In the last year, we responded swiftly through contributions in cash and kind, to situations requiring urgent humanitarian relief efforts, for instance during the war in Ukraine and the natural disasters in Pakistan, Syria and Turkiye.
We are proud of our team and the stakeholders we work with, whose hard work, drive and passion have ensured supply chain continuity amidst increasing challenges, serving as an inspiration to us all. With a strong commitment to the future, we will continue to drive ourselves and others to work ever more closely and find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face as a society.
After all, this is core to our purpose: “We commit to making food safe and available, everywhere. And we promise to protect what’s good: food, people, and the planet.”