Palsgaard raises CSR bar for food industry

Palsgaard's 48-page 2013 CSR Report outlines the latest steps in four key areas (climate, employees, governance and products) where Palsgaard has significant efforts well underway to address its impact on the environment, its people and society at large. And it makes for impressive reading.

While it may not be the largest company in the global food industry, Palsgaard is credited with inventing the modern emulsifier some 80 years ago, and today provides high-quality emulsifiers and stabilizers, as well as "green" functional agents for polymers to the food and food packaging industries. As a knowledge-based company, it is using significant R&D resources and its inventive nature to solve CSR issues, too.

Aggressive goals

Palsgaard has put CO2 emissions reduction firmly at the top of its CSR agenda. Most of the company's electricity, for example, is supplied as RECS-certified green energy from newly established wind farms. 

Four years ago, the company declared its most ambitious objective: to achieve CO2neutrality by 2020. That point may seem far in the future, and thus comparatively easy to achieve, but like most processing-based manufacturers, the company's production uses a great deal of energy. The 2013 CSR report reveals that efforts to reduce emissions are on track, approximately halving Palsgaard's total CO2 emissions since 2007.

Another highlight is the company's determination to achieve 100-percent RSPO-certified palm oil in its production, combatting the consequences that growing oil palms may have on the climate, biodiversity and working conditions in South-East Asia. The 2013 CSR report indicates that this goal will be achieved during 2015. The company also reports increased interest during 2013 in products with RSPO-certified ingredients.

Excellent progress was also reported in relation to other key goals listed in the latest report, such as wastewater emissions (down from 1.53 litres per kg of finished product in 2012 to 1.39 in 2013) and workplace accident frequency (down by 21% compared to last year's reporting). Employee satisfaction was again measured, with results aligning with the European Employment Index (EEI) categorization of "a high level of job satisfaction".

Global responsibilities

Palsgaard is active in more than one hundred countries globally, an engagement that carries with it a multitude of responsibilities.

CEO Jakob Thøisen insists Palsgaard lives up to best-in-class international expectations: "In 2013, we placed particular emphasis on responsible supply chain management, aiming to have all our raw materials supplied by producers that recognize the UN Global Compact's 10 principles and conduct their businesses in an ethical manner."

The ingredients manufacturer has an eye for local communities, too. Since 2010, for example, Palsgaard Mexico has been partnering with CTDUCA, an organization dedicated to help children and adults with Down's syndrome to improve their metabolism and learning abilities to obtain better quality of life. This activity has continued in 2013.

CSR as a competitive advantage

When asked whether his company's seriousness about CSR has led to competitive advantage in the marketplace, CEO Jakob Thøisen agrees, explaining that it makes sound business sense in other aspects, too.

"Naturally, these activities have provided a financial advantage in terms of energy savings," he says. "And our efforts with CSR have also significantly increased the interest for our products worldwide. So it's definitely good for business."

A top priority

Why is Palsgaard consistently able to prioritize CSR activities at this level? Jakob Thøisen believes that much of the answer lies in the company's unique ownership structure.

"A lot of companies include CSR in their strategies primarily because they realize it's a growing customer requirement," he explains. "But the Schou Foundation, Palsgaard's owner, has emphasized social and environmental aspects since its establishment in 1957. And already in 1908, long before "Corporate Social Responsibility" was conceptualized, our founder, Einar Viggo Schou, stressed the importance of being responsible and caring toward the company's employees and their families - and the obligation to extend this responsibility into society. So we have a formal obligation to do our best toward CSR - and we are constantly measured on our achievements in this important area."

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