Sustainability has for many companies gone from being a tick-in-a-box activity to becoming a critical business activity. How integrated is sustainability in AAK’s everyday business operations? The public demand for a more sustainable world has significantly increased in the course of the last years and has indeed resulted in greater efforts across the food value chain in order to increase sustainability. Whereas sustainability was often not on the agenda or merely an afterthought at the end of a business meeting, it is now a standard agenda topic when customers and suppliers meet. We witness that the industry is operating in two distinct ways – companies that lead and companies that follow. Leadership of thought and being bold when it comes to taking responsibility is necessary to deliver on sustainability. At AAK we take our leadership role both seriously and personally as it is through personal commitment and engagement that we can improve. Sustainability can be seen as an add-on cost or as a value driver and value creator. We have chosen to see it as the latter. There is an ever-growing consumer awareness of healthy food. How is this reflected in AAK’s innovation pipeline? Being a producer of vegetable oils and fats, probably the most discussed food ingredient and nutrient in relation to the health of the general population, AAK has always had a strong focus on healthy food, especially in regards to the specific composition of vegetable oil formulations. In recent years we have, however, seen a widening of the scope of healthy food. This scope – covered by the term “well-being” – suggests that a healthy human being is not only defined by the weight, blood pressure and serum lipid composition, but also by the person’s perception of food and health, including the perception of natural food, clean and clear labeling and a transparent supply chain. One of the focus areas in AAK’s innovation strategy is “Health and well-being” which promotes project ideas focusing on these very important issues. 10 What are some of the recent sustainability trends that AAK has encountered in its dialogue with customers? Clearly we see that the scope and definition of sustainability has both broadened and deepened. Many years back it was limited to, allow me to simplify, “protecting the rainforest”, but now the dialogue has expanded to include waste reduction across the whole chain, improving living conditions, making sure child labor isn’t used, fair pay, better upfront communication, improved education and better health. Our conversations include all supply chains to make sure we preserve, protect and better utilize the arable land available, efforts to reduce energy, water consumption and CO2 emissions in our operations, as well as inbound and outbound logistics. What is very encouraging is that the spirit of these conversations is very collaborative, and we know that we can only improve by working together. Jan Lenferink President AAK Europe Karsten Nielsen Chief Technology Officer ” ” Sustainability – a value driver and a value creator Strong focus on healthy and sustainable food How does the increased consumer awareness of sustainable food affect AAK’s new product development? Development of sustainable food is a complex process, covering the full chain from idea generation via sourcing of raw materials to the final processing. At AAK we have a strong focus on the functionality of the final ingredients, applying the full spectrum of available raw materials and unit operations. In regards to raw materials, sustainable and responsible sourcing is an integrated part of all our sourcing activities on any raw material we apply. In regards to unit operations we apply all available operations, and in our process development team we continually strive to optimize our processes to reduce the use of processing aids, and to reduce waste and energy consumption.
To see the actual publication please follow the link above