Important components of Horizon 2020 are the implementation of the One ForFarmers approach and giving substance to our strategic partnerships. As a result of this, we can support customers with our Total Feed approach in the best way possible: a broad product portfolio focussing on the specific needs of the customer. In 2015, sustainability also got our full attention and additional steps were taken to entrench this important theme even further in the organisation.
ForFarmers is working hard on the transformation from a local compound feed supplier into a leading international feed business that supports its customers in realising their business objectives through an unambiguous, recognisable approach and a complete product portfolio.
The financial results achieved in 2015 show a solid improvement compared to last year. The further implementation of Horizon 2020 also led to an above-average result for our customers. This is achieved by the high-quality feed products we deliver in combination with the support on farm from our specialists; both elements contribute to the optimisation of customers’ results. This is achieved by supplying specific, technical knowledge, new products and other initiatives. It is evident that an ever-larger share of our products and services is customised, which is in line with our ambition of helping our customers realise their objectives. Where we can compare our customers’ results with others, we clearly score better. For instance, in 2015 ForFarmers' feed was awarded as 'Best Buy' by farmers in the Netherlands.
The Total Feed approach aims to offer customers the optimal total feed solution that improves the return on farm level. Because the income of farmers is under pressure due to current market conditions, it is more important than ever to ForFarmers to create customer value and to point out what certain feed combinations can yield.
Strategic partnerships are of crucial importance to a further successful rollout of the Total Feed approach. Together with our strategich partners this was achieved in 2015 by combining knowledge with the available product portfolio. An example is the first joint product concept for piglet feed that was introduced - together with Nutreco - under the name VIDA. This new feed concept leads to considerably better results than what is available on the market so far. VIDA is also the first product that was launched at the same time in the four countries in which ForFarmers is active.
To ForFarmers, sustainability is an obvious part of business operations, meaning not only in the area of feed production but also in the utilisation of raw materials, animal welfare and the environment. In 2015 we sharpened our sustainability strategy and, through internal and external assessment, a step was taken towards GRI reporting (Global Reporting Initiative).
The further rollout of One ForFarmers is very important to the organisation - one brand, one unambiguous way of working, the same mentality and the optimal use of available knowledge, expertise and scale in combination with a further professionalisation of the organisation. This means local responsibility and decisions close to the customer but with uniform processes and optimal use of knowledge and skills from the group as a whole. Through One ForFarmers we have created an international culture, distinguishing ourselves in the European market as an attractive partner to farmers, suppliers, knowledge institutions and present and future employees. In addition, economies of scales have been achieved through the joint purchasing of raw materials with our strategic partners.
The One ForFarmers approach means a change from working in local teams to working as an international team. This type of considerable change would not have been possible without the constructive and enthusiastic attitude of our employees. The progress that we have made can be attributed to the significant determination and commitment of the ForFarmers team and I am proud of that.
As a learning organisation we also want to develop our people to continually improve and to be critical of their own performances. For this reason we have invested in personal development through Development Programmes and in professional training and instruction. We actively support employees in their development; the growth of ForFarmers creates new opportunities for giving further shape to their career. In addition, externally we are also seen more and more as an attractive employer as a result of which we were able to recruit new talent in 2015. This provides for further professionalisation of the organisation and brings new insight that enriches the existing company culture.
The relationship with our largest shareholder, Cooperative FromFarmers, remains of utmost importance. The members of the Cooperative are important customers of ForFarmers. The support for our strategy and the positive and constructive attitude towards the changes that Horizon 2020 brings about, provide an important and solid basis for the success and the development of ForFarmers.
I look back on the past year and everything that we have accomplished with great satisfaction. The implementation of Horizon 2020 is on track and follow-up steps are being taken. The potential public stock exchange listing can provide everybody with an additional impulse towards improvement and can strengthen the positioning of ForFarmers as a leading international feed company.
No doubt 2016 will be a year with many challenges but I am very confident that together with our entire team we can turn these challenges into positive results, both for our customers and for other stakeholders.
Without the commitment and dedication of all our employees we would not have been able to turn 2015 into this successful year and I would like to thank everybody, also on behalf of my fellow board members, for their contribution.
Lochem, 21 March 2016