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Suppliers are stepping up their environmental sustainability efforts.
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Suppliers are stepping up their environmental sustainability efforts.

Suppliers ramp up environmental sustainability efforts, plant-based and upcycling spotlighted

23 Dec 2021 — An in-depth examination of the sustainability measures taken by industry players in the flavor, dairy, and ingredients sectors to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions has revealed that there are a number of efforts being made to pool resources and produce plant-based products.

FoodIngredientsFirst To determine the sustainability progress, Symrise spoke with Uelzena, a dairy producer, and olam food ingredient provider (ofi).

Uelzena has a holistic outlook and focuses on the consolidation economy, society, and environment. 

Bernd Gewecke is the managing director of sales dairy products, ingredients, and contract manufacturing. He says that reducing emissions and resource consumption are priorities along with the generation and sustainable procurement, a competitive milk payout and promotion of voluntary work and youth advancement. 

GHG emissions from production
Uelzena invested in energy-saving and resource-saving processes, technologies, equipment and other equipment at all its locations to reduce its emissions. Since 2012, emissions have decreased by nearly 50%.

Five fields of action: “company,” “products,” “production,” “employees,” “social and regional responsibility,” have been defined by Uelzena corresponding with measures outlined by the Global Standards of Sustainability Reporting (GRI) standard. 

Most of Uelzena’s GHG emissions can be traced back to the upstream area of milk production. 

“It was, therefore, very important to consider the entire value chain and get all those involved, the milk producers but also technology suppliers or logistics service providers and even the customers,” states Gewecke. 

“In this way, much greater potential and meaningful synergies can be realized than with individual isolated measures.”

Streamlining milk production to reduce our environmental footprintUelzena’s main raw material, milk, is sourced regionally from within a 150 km radius from its processing plants. 
Uelzena’s main raw material, milk, is sourced regionally from within a 150 km radius from its processing plants. 

“To specifically reduce avoidable emissions in milk production, we are in close dialogue with our milk producers and are involved in a pilot project on the carbon footprint of milk as well as in the dairy sustainability tool, which collects data for a variety of sustainability aspects regarding the milk production by our farmers,” explains Gewecke.

Healthy and long-living cows with a high milk yield have a very positive effect on the GHG  balance, the company reports. The same holds true for a high quality basic fodder and a small amount of imported soy. 

Renewable energies and energy-saving technology have had a positive impact on the climate balance of milk. The usefulness of gas-tight storage for farm manure is also evident.

Uelzena commissioned resource-saving transport options for raw milk from dairy farmers to processing plants, which reduce GHG emissions along the value chain.

“Some of the milk collection vehicles have already been equipped with battery-powered electric pumps that charge during the transport. This avoids emissions and saves fuel,” says Gewecke. 

“Another decisive factor for resource-saving milk collection is the continuous adjustment of route planning, which minimizes the distances traveled,” he adds.

Transparent operations are ensured by the collection of data
“Being close to farmers is key to delivering more reliable, traceable, and transparent supply for our customers,” Kamesh Ellajosyula, chief innovation and quality officer at ofi, tells FoodIngredientsFirst. 

The company’s sustainability insights platform AtSource provides customers with a view of the supply chain using scientific data to help them report their environmental and social impact.

“Building on those insights, we can now calculate for our customers the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the interventions that will achieve them at farm level, making the smallholder programs more impactful and efficient,” explains Ellajosyula.

Recycling byproducts reduces lossesKamesh Elliottjosyula, chief innovation officer and quality officer at ofi 
Ofi has partnered up with Wageningen University to improve and adapt postharvest loss protocols. They have also completed trials on a variety of crops, including sesame, hazelnuts and quinoa. This partnership is promising for increasing farmer income.

“Our innovation teams are upcycling harvest by-products including coffee cherry cascara and cashew apple into desired new products, as both a way to reduce waste and provide an additional source of income for smallholders,” Ellajosyula outlines.

Utilizing cocoa husks, and other biomass waste, reduces energy costs as well as emissions in the plant’s processing facilities.

In 2020, ofi started an initiative with Solidaridad to produce “circular coffee” from Peru. The initiative increases production at the farm level, reduces wastage, protects ecosystems at farms, and provides economic benefits to producers. 

The Netherlands’s sale of construction panels made with upcycled coffee grounds in the Netherlands is a source of income that is reinvested in inclusive cultivation and environmental conservation in Peru. 

Plant-based products an “indispensable resource”
Alternative proteins in F&B have the potential to grow, driven by sustainability, health considerations, as well as consumer desire for novel dishes, snacks, drinks, and beverages, Leif Jaguaro, junior marketer global marketing, flavor Division Symrise, explains. FoodIngredientsFirst.

Symrise reports that 39% of Europeans now buy vegetarian and vegan food. 38% of Americans are trying to eat more plants, while 71% of Chinese consumers eat various products and plant-based foods to balance their diets.

Statistics gathered by ofi confirms there are “substantial growth opportunities” in the plant-based market, especially within vegan protein sources. Research indicates a 38% increase of sales in the past two years.

Nut protein powders are a promising alternative to traditional meat protein powders. These powders are made by cold pressing nuts to remove fat before grinding. They combine high protein with a clean flavour. 

“They’re well-suited as an alternative binding agent, replacing low-solubility flours and proteins. Manufacturers are then able to introduce natural flavors like cocoa or spices to create natural and nutritious products,” underscores Ellajosyula.

Climate positive by 2030Symrise has taken the pledge to recycle 95% suitable plastics by 2020. It will also focus on increasing production of biodegradable goods based on green Chemistry.
Symrise’s goal is to be climate-positive by 2030, and to sequester up 63% of GHG emissions before 2025. The company will increase the efficiency in chemical oxygen demand in wastewater by 4 percent annually and that of sensitive waste by 4 percent annually.

Additionally, the company will increase water efficiency at production sites located in arid regions by 15 percent and source sustainably-sourced biological raw materials. 

Symrise has pledged to recycle 95% of the suitable plastics by 2025. It will also focus on increasing the production of biodegradable goods based on green chemicals and raw materials from sustainable resources. According to the company, it has committed to support certified climate protection projects worldwide.

The company has grouped its sustainability principles into four pillars of “environmental protection,” “sustainable innovation,” “raw material sourcing” and “employees and society.” Technologies such as Symrise’s SymTrap help to identify new natural raw materials from side streams.

Symrise strives to adhere to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of responsible consumption and production which it will achieve by using raw materials more fully through upcycling. This includes natural substances that would otherwise be trashed.

Symrise has pledged to recycle 95% of the suitable plastics by 2025 and will concentrate on increasing the production of biodegradable products that are based on green chemicals.

By Inga de Jong with additional reporting by MissyGreen

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