Sustainability as an integral part of business

Demand for animal protein will continue to grow as a result of global population growth and increasing wealth. At the same time there are constraints on major resources including land, energy, water and labour. ForFarmers is part of a supply chain which uses a large quantity of these finite resources to produce animal protein, so the animal feed industry has both an obligation and the means to play an essential role in meeting this growing demand by continuously improving the efficiency and therefore sustainability of livestock production.

The food supply chain continues to face a number of challenges. These include the impact that livestock production has on the environment, the responsible sourcing of raw materials (particularly soybean meal and palm oil), animal health and welfare, the adoption, where appropriate, of new technologies such as genetic modification and the use of antibiotics in livestock production.

Sharpened approach

As an industry leader, ForFarmers has decided to sharpen its sustainability approach. This sharpened approach is based on extensive consultation with external experts, industry stakeholders and the internal organisation.

ForFarmers has broadened the scope of its activities with regard to sustainability and increased its ambition: to be best in class where ForFarmers has direct control, such as in its own operations, and to engage proactively with partners in the supply chain in those areas where a wider coalition is needed to create impact. Examples being with raw material suppliers to implement responsible sourcing guidelines or with processors and retailers to roll out feed concepts which improve sustainability but add costs which have to be recovered from the consumer.

In addition, ForFarmers will embark on a process to move towards integrated reporting based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework and expects to be able to report to GRI G4 (option core) for the 2017 financial year. This process has been started with a materiality analysis from which a new sustainability framework has been created. During 2016, this integrated strategy will be extended to include KPI’s and objectives for each of the 6 aspects in the framework. However, until this process has been completed, ForFarmers will continue to report on the objectives published in last year’s Annual Report. The organisation installed a Sustainability Advisory Board including external experts who will provide the organisation additional oversight and input.

Scope and key themes

The scope of ForFarmers’ approach is the total supply chain of animal protein production: the sourcing of raw materials, ForFarmers’ own operations (manufacturing and logistics) and livestock farming. Through our newly developed sustainability framework, we will take action across the supply chain by focussing on three strategic sustainability themes: environment, people and society and animal health and welfare.


As a result of the stakeholder dialogue conducted during 2015, the theme environment has been defined as reducing emissions and minimising the use of finite natural resources.

ForFarmers focus over the coming years will be on limiting the use of land, energy and water, minimizing phosphate pollution from agricultural systems (particularly in the Netherlands where this is a priority issue) and on the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions - including raw materials sourcing - as opposed to the current reliance on primary energy used in its own operations.

People & Society

ForFarmers' new sustainability approach on people and society is now defined as ensuring the safety of people, processes and products. The current focus on health and safety will increase further in 2016 but the new framework also broadens the scope to include fair and responsible working conditions throughout the supply chain which will be achieved through a Supplier Code of Conduct to be introduced during the year. ForFarmers takes its responsibility for feed and therefore food safety very seriously. This is now explicitly included in the new sustainability framework.

Animal Health & Welfare

ForFarmers defines animal health and welfare as enabling farmers to keep and feed animals well. This has always been a focus point for ForFarmers and was identified as a high priority issue during the stakeholder dialogue. This theme is included in the new framework.

Reporting and Governance

ForFarmers will adopt transparent reporting practices to benchmark progress and performance. The newly appointed Sustainability Advisory Board will support and advise ForFarmers on its sustainability performance. This is chaired by the CEO of ForFarmers and includes external members representing retailers, NGO's, academia, farmers and the R&D community.

A reconstituted Task Force has been established within the ForFarmers organisation. The Task Force is chaired by the Corporate Affairs Director and includes two members of the Board of Directors and representatives from the various business functions.

Reporting of sustainability performance is now considered to be standard practice. The new sustainability framework has been written with external reporting in mind. ForFarmers is reviewing best practice and will embark on the journey to external reporting using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.

Sustainability Advisory Board

Supplier/R&D Nutreco / Wageningen University Prof. Leo den Hartog Director R&D & Quality Affairs at Nutreco and Professor Sustainable Animal Production Chains at Wageningen University
Academia University of Cambridge Martin Roberts Director of the University of Cambridge Natural Capital Leaders Platform at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
Farmers Deutscher Bauernverband Werner Schwarz Vice President of the German Farmers Association e.V. and since 2008 President of The Schleswig-Holstein Farmers Association e.V.
Food Industry FrieslandCampina Frank van Ooijen Corporate Director Communication, Sustainability & FrieslandCampina Institute for Dairy Nutrition
Retail Tesco Barney Kay Head of Agriculture at Tesco
NGO Natuur & Milieu Sijas Akkerman Policy Director Food, Agro, and Circular Economy at Natuur & Milieu