Sustainability and Innovation

Stakeholder Dialogue


Demand for food is expected to increase and this demand will have to be met in a sustainable way.  As livestock nutritionists, the animal feed industry has a vital role to play in achieving this by continuously improving both the efficiency of livestock production and the health and welfare of animals. Sustainability is therefore a logical and integral part of ForFarmers’ operations and its Horizon 2020 strategy. It is also one of ForFarmers’ three core values, along with ambition and partnership.

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ForFarmers operates in the agri-food supply chain and recognises the importance of understanding the views of its stakeholders.  In addition to the ongoing discussions that advisors and others have with customers, in 2017 the Company held a survey to gain and measure feedback from its key external stakeholders. The results of this survey have been used to update the ForFarmers materiality matrix. A separate employee survey, which was held internally, included questions on awareness and engagement with the Company’s sustainability approach. The survey showed that 83% of respondents said they saw an increased focus on sustainability over the last 12 months and 76% felt they knew how to influence the Company’s performance.

Moreover, members of the Executive Committee and senior management hold regular meetings with stakeholders to discuss key elements of our strategy and performance, including sustainability. 


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Note: Level 1 stakeholders have been defined as those directly involved in the ForFarmers supply chain (customers, suppliers, retailers, processors).  Level 2 includes all other stakeholder groups.


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Materiality matrix and topics

ForFarmers has developed a sustainability framework comprising three themes and six material topics. The creation of this framework was the result of a number of stakeholder interviews and came about in consultation with ForFarmers Sustainability Advisory Board.


In addition, five Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been developed against which ForFarmers measures its performance.  The connection between the six material topics and the associated KPIs is shown below.

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Theme Material topic KPI
Environment Limit phosphate pollution 1) phosphate efficiency percentage on-farm in NL (dairy and swine farmers)
  Limit greenhouse gas emissions 2) GHG emissions in metric tonnes of CO₂ equivalent
  Minimise the use of land, water and energy 3) percentage of sustainable soy bean meal and palm oil
People and society Ensure safe and fair working conditions 4) Number of Lost Time Incidents (LTIs)
  Improve feed safety 5) Total number of feed incidents due to non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes

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ForFarmers published a materiality matrix for the first time in 2016. This matrix was updated in 2017 -  to comply with the format required by GRI G4 guidelines - using the results from the aforementioned stakeholder questionnaire. The questionnaire was completed by 70 stakeholders including 41 members of the Board and senior management team and 29 external stakeholders. The respondents were asked to rank issues in order of importance.

To provide a weighting, the average ranking scores from level-1 stakeholder groups were multiplied by a factor of 2 whilst the average level-2 scores for each group were multiplied by a factor of 1 to compile a total score for each group. 

All internal stakeholders were treated as one group.

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UN Sustainable Development Goals

ForFarmers’ sustainability strategy focuses on similar core objectives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).Going forward, ForFarmers has decided to introduce these UN SDGs as guiding principles aimed at ending poverty,

protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all as part of its new sustainable development objectives to be achieved by 2030. The connection between the ForFarmers KPIs and these UN SDGs is shown below. 

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ForFarmers’ Material Topics and related KPIs

1. Limit phosphate pollution

Phosphate pollution is viewed as a material topic because the phosphate excreted by animals pollutes surface water. The EU has therefore imposed phosphate production ceilings for all EU countries (for all member states). Given the intensive farming in the Netherlands, dairy and pig farmers face a particular challenge of staying under the permitted phosphate ceiling. Too little phosphate in the feed reduces animal performance; too much increases emissions into the environment.


In the Netherlands, ForFarmers therefore engages in the ‘KringloopWijzer’ scheme, a nutrient management system for all dairy farmers to record the use of phosphate, nitrogen and carbon on farm. Accordingly, ForFarmers has chosen phosphate efficiency percentage in its dairy and pig customer’s production systems in the Netherlands as its KPI for this material topic. This is calculated from a sample of farmers, from which the calculated rate for phosphate efficiency indicates the amount of phosphate that is utilised by the animal. The results are always lagged by one year due to the availability of the data. 

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Phosphate efficiency (only for The Netherlands)

  2016 2015 1
  % Number of farms in the sample % Number of farms in the sample
Dairy 37,20% 2347 36,10% 2587
Swine fattening 51,90% 251 50,40% 419
Sows 41,40% 95 40,80% 100
Swine breeder & feeder farms (sows and fattening) 47,60% 79 47,20% 106

¹ This data has been revised compared to that published in the 2016 Annual Report

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The phosphate efficiency rate informs both the farmer and the adviser about phosphate utilisation on the farm, and therefore also about the phosphate losses which create the pollution. The higher the percentage, the better it is. In biological systems, the utilisation of nutrients such as phosphate will never be 100%. Utilisation in pigs and poultry will generally be higher than in ruminants. Phosphate efficiency improved in 2016 compared to the previous year. ForFarmers influences phosphate efficiency through nutrition by continually focusing on better utilisation of nutrients and the use of the latest generation of phytase enzymes

“We have to use raw materials and minerals as efficiently as possible. In addition, feed must be produced in a responsible manner and also remain affordable. ForFarmers helps us to continue to earn a living whilst complying with the environmental legislation."  Piet Winkelmolen, dairy farmer in Heythuysen (NL).

ForFarmers also introduced a ‘true phosphor’ parameter and a phosphate calculator to help farmers measure and reduce phosphate production whilst achieving maximum milk production per cow.

2. Limit greenhouse gas emissions 

Livestock production is a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change and has therefore been identified as a material topic. ForFarmers recognises that feed is a major contributor to the environmental impact of livestock production. Accordingly, GHG emissions are calculated (both per tonne of feed produced and in total), initially within ForFarmers’ own operations (i.e. scope 1 (use of gas and oil) and scope 2 (use of electricity)). This is an area in which ForFarmers can make a difference directly through its own actions, albeit that GHG emissions produced within scope 1 and 2 are minimal in comparison to those produced in scope 3 (emissions produced in the supply of raw materials and inbound logistic chain to ForFarmers and emissions on-farm).

For 2017, only data for production has been included.  Data is included for all products (compounds and raw materials) used and manufactured in all ForFarmers controlled compound feed mills for sale in bags or bulk. The blend plants in Germany (manufacture of pet food) are excluded as they fall outside the scope of compound feed mills.

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Greenhouse gas emissions (Kg of CO2 per tonne)

  Scope 1 Scope 2
  2017 2017
  Gas Kerosene Medium oil Electricity
Netherlands  4,11 - -  16,30
Germany  4,10 - -  11,95
Belgium  2,24 - -  4,85
UK  4,98 1,35 0,36  20,77
Total 4,25 1,35 0,36 16,36


Greenhouse gas emissions (Total tonnes of CO2 )

  Scope 1 Scope 2
  2017 2017
  Gas Kerosene Medium oil Electricity
Netherlands 12.956 - - 51.400
Germany 3.200 - - 9.325
Belgium 899 - - 1.949
UK 9.289 2.515 669 38.701
Total 26.345 2.515 669 101.375


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Scope 1 CO2 emissions are calculated using coefficients from the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, except in the United Kingdom where the AIC Climate Change Agreement has been used as the reference, which is more accurate but not available in the other countries.

Scope 2 emissions are calculated based on energy generation, except again in the United Kingdom where the AIC Climate Change Agreement has been used for accuracy reasons.

Activities in 2017

With respect to production, ForFarmers aims to reduce its primary energy usage (scope 1 and 2) per unit of output by 10% by 2020 compared to a 2014 baseline. In 2017, a reduction of 2.57% was achieved compared to 2016. This was the result of a combination of factors including investment in more energy efficient plant and equipment, a favourable raw material mix and  a favourable energy mix particularly in Belgium. 

In manufacturing ForFarmers utilises an Energy Saving Matrix that sets out a list of projects in each country targeted to improve energy efficiency. A number of ForFarmers sites now have solar panels installed that are contributing to energy savings. In dealing with this KPI, ForFarmers is at times also confronted with dilemmas: Extruders were placed in the Lochem factory, which use more energy. However, these lead to higher quality feed that improves feed conversion for our customers, which in its turn results in a lower use of raw materials and consequently to a lower carbon footprint.

ForFarmers also puts measures in place to improve efficiency in In logistics (transport). Litres of fuel per tonne of feed delivered by the dedicated fleet is measured and reviewed on a monthly basis. Energy efficiency is improved by effective vehicle planning, which increases utilisation.

ForFarmers also continues to invest in new trucks with more efficient Euro 6 engines and an innovative electric blowing system on trucks has been developed. At the end of 2017 50% of trucks ran on Euro 6 engines.  Logistics Academies have been introduced throughout the business, among other things to train drivers to improve fuel efficiency by adjusting their driving style. In 2017 all of ForFarmers drivers attended the Logistics Academy. The performance of drivers is measured by monitoring the number of kilometres per litre of fuel.
The company car policy, which was introduced at the beginning of 2016, encourages employees with company lease cars to choose electric or low CO2 emission vehicles. In 2017 the lease fleet was expanded by 7 electric/ hybrid cars. As the supply of electric cars is becoming larger, ForFarmers aims to increase the share of electric cars in its lease fleet faster.

In the United Kingdom, the new offices at Bury St Edmunds and the development of the mill at Exeter incorporate energy saving designs.

ForFarmers recognises that Scope 3 emissions from its production and transport of raw materials and from the utilisation of feed by its farmer customers are significant. However, measuring these emissions in a comparable and consistent manner remains a challenge. To this end the Company is actively involved in European and international initiatives to develop a harmonised methodology for calculating the environmental impact of feed production delivered to the farm gate. These include the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) pilot studies run by the European Commission and the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI), an independent feed industry initiative that aims to develop a freely and publically available Feed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) feed materials database and tools to help feed business operators. The objective of the GFLI is to support a meaningful environmental assessment of livestock products and to stimulate continuous improvement of the environmental performance in the feed industry. These tools will hopefully become available in 2018, enabling ForFarmers to begin to calculate, monitor and manage its upstream Scope 3 emissions in all four countries in a meaningful and consistent way. 

At farm level, ForFarmers develops products and provides advice to its customers to help them increase the efficiency of production and therefore reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions within their chosen production system. For example, in 2017 ForFarmers launched the NOVA range of sow diets. The NOVA programme has been developed to ensure exceptional gilt development and excellent sow lifetime performance through simple feeding programmes that provide easy-to-operate solutions for the customer. Improving sow productivity increases the efficiency of production, is more profitable for the customer and reduces GHG emissions. Moreover, NOVA focuses on improved feed efficiency.

"Further reductions of CO2 and methane emissions are important goals for livestock farming. ForFarmers can contribute to this with innovations in feed."  Joost Ruijter, dairy farmer in Burgerbrug (NL).

3. Minimise use of the land, water and energy

The environmental impact associated with the production of feed raw materials is a very important topic for many of our stakeholders and therefore also a material topic. The issues largely revolve around deforestation and land use change associated with raw materials imported into the EU, particularly soy and palm oil. 

ForFarmers has committed to source 100% responsible soya bean meal and palm oil by 2020 as one of its KPIs. In 2017 75.2% of soy meal and 74.7% palm oil purchased by ForFarmers met the Company’s definition of responsibly sourced raw materials. 

% sustainable soy bean meal and palm oil purchases

  Percentage of sustainable soy bean meal purchases Percentage of sustainable palm oil purchases
  2017 2016 2017 2016
Total   75,2% 72,70% 74,7%   52,30%


The percentage of sustainable soy bean meal increased in response to supply chain demand, while a higher number of palm oil certificates were purchased to ensure progress towards the 2020 objective.

The Company is a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and was actively involved in the development of the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) soy sourcing guidelines published in 2015. Together with FEFAC, ForFarmers continues to engage with both upstream and downstream supply chain partners to raise awareness of the guidelines to facilitate the mainstream supply of responsible soy into Europe. ForFarmers’ commitment to sourcing according to recognised environmental, social and ethical standards will be extended to include all raw materials, through a structured dialogue with suppliers and the Sedex supplier code of practice, which was implemented in 2017. Of the product-related procurement spend, more than 70% of the suppliers have signed either the Sedex code or a suppliers code of conduct. Of the non-product related procurement spend, over 30% of the suppliers have signed a code,  representing more than 60% of the annual spend. 

In addition, in order to be less dependent on soy, ForFarmers is continually researching alternative protein sources. This research includes the use of higher levels of materials grown in the EU such as sunflower and rapeseed meal, as well as more novel materials such as algae and duckweed.  ForFarmers is also involved in a number of projects investigating the development of insects as a sustainable source of protein. This includes a four-year project with Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and other industry organisations investigating whether insect larvae are a sustainable source of nutrition for piglets and broilers. For the first time the full environmental impact will be identified. This will determine whether providing insects could lead to a reduction in the environmental impact of livestock production. At the same time the project will explore the potential benefits for chicken and pig welfare. ForFarmers awarded the project its new Sustainability Certificate for best project in 2017. 

ForFarmers also monitors and reviews its own water usage by site.  Continuous efforts are made to reduce water usage.

4. Ensure safe and good working conditions

Providing a safe working environment for all employees, temporary contracted staff, contractors and visitors is given the highest priority and is therefore included as a material topic. 

ForFarmers records the number of Lost Time Incidents (LTIs) by region and by gender. All LTIs are reported to the ForFarmers Board within 24 hours and lessons learned are discussed at each Board meeting.  An LTI is defined as “any unplanned event that results in personal injury, where the injured party is unable to work during their next scheduled day, or as per the ForFarmers Group definition”.

ForFarmers objective is to reduce LTIs by 70% in 2020 compared to 2014 (54). As more and more attention is paid to health and safety, an increasing number of LTIs and near misses has been recorded in recent years. Despite this, a lower number of LTIs was reported in 2017 compared to the previous year. 

Number of LTIs

  2017 2016
Netherlands 19 17
Germany 6 14
Belgium 1 2
UK 21 22
Total 47 55


Activities in 2017

ForFarmers’ approach to Health & Safety (H&S) centres around raising awareness by training staff, implementing clear rules, performing dynamic risk assessments, inspiring employees to increasingly report near incidents in order to prevent real incidents from occurring and effecting a change in behaviour and audits to see to the correct management of all critical areas of risk.

More H&S checks and training courses were conducted in 2017. In addition, more has been invested in the factories and in employee know-how. The positive outcome of this is that this has already led to an increase in the number of near-miss notifications that are used to prevent

accidents from occurring. A high-profile communication campaign on H&S procedures continued to be implemented throughout the Group via the ‘Better Safe than Sorry’ campaign. 

Notwithstanding all the measures taken, accidents still can occur in exceptional circumstances. In the beginning of 2018, a ForFarmers member of staff was sadly lost due to a tragic, fatal incident. 

ForFarmers is committed to ensuring the safety of people, processes and products and aims for fair and good working conditions throughout the entire supply chain. For this purpose, ForFarmers issued a Supplier Code of Conduct in 2017, which was developed with the help of Sedex. Respecting human rights and the environment are part of ForFarmers’ sustainability approach.

5. Improve feed safety

ForFarmers is part of the food supply chain. Therefore, feed safety has and always will be a priority. As such, it has been included as a material topic.  All incidents of non-compliance with feed regulations and voluntary codes are proactively monitored and managed.

Feed safety is reported by recording the total number of feed safety incidents of non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services within the reporting period, by:

  • Number of feed safety incidents of non-compliance with regulations resulting in a fine or penalty;

  • Number of feed safety incidents of non-compliance with regulations resulting in a warning;

  • Number of feed safety incidents of major non-compliance with voluntary codes via external audits.

A feed safety incident is defined as any incident where it is deemed that feed produced, processed, manufactured or distributed could be a potential risk to either human or animal health and/or could make the food derived from food-producing animals unsafe for human consumption.

A One ForFarmers approach is taken to HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points). Feed materials and compound feeds are continuously monitored to determine unwanted substances as defined by EU legislation, GMP+, Ovocom, Feed Chain Alliance and UFAS regulations, the SecureFeed monitoring plan and ForFarmers’ own risk analyses. All incidences of non-compliance with feed regulations and voluntary codes are proactively monitored and managed.

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Number of feed incidents

  Non–compliance with regulations resulting in a fine or penalty Non–compliance with regulations resulting in a warning Non-compliance with voluntary codes
  2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016
Netherlands 0 2 4 4 5 4
Germany 6 2 3 1 1 1
Belgium 0 0 1 3 0 0
UK 0 0 0 0 6 2
Total 6 4 8 8 12 7


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During 2017, more audits were performed by retailers as part of their periodic review cycle. This is the reason for the higher number of feed incidents relating to non-compliance with voluntary codes in 2017.

Non-compliance is determined by the relevant competent authorities and external certification bodies in each country via inspections and external audits.

The quality managers in the countries continuously assess whether production processes are carried out as agreed and take action when abnormalities are identified. The Group Quality Manager then validates this. 
None of these incidents has led to a risk for food safety.
The total amount of fines was €941 (2016: €17,885).

6. Improve animal health and welfare

Animal health and welfare emerges as an important talking point in each external stakeholder dialogue and is therefore included as a material topic.

It is ForFarmers’ mission to help all its customers feed their animals well and keep them healthy. Its core focus is to ensure that each animal receives the correct level of nutrition to meet its basic needs.

Moreover, specific concepts are developed aimed at helping customers mitigate the impact of specific legislative requirements such as the ban on de-beaking hens or the castration of pigs. 

ForFarmers customers use many different production systems, both intensive and extensive, conventional and organic, indoor and outdoor and on a small and large scale. It focuses on optimising resource efficiency and animal health and welfare in each of these production systems.

Improving animal health and welfare is an integral part of the ForFarmers Total Feed offering. Given the different species and broad spectrum this covers, it is not yet possible to define and report on a KPI with regard to the generic objective to improve animal health and welfare.

Examples of innovation projects in 2017 aimed at improving animal health and welfare include:

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Examples of innovation projects in 2017 aimed at improving animal health and welfare include:

Ruminant Poultry Swine
Diagnosis of rumen acidosis via milk samples Development of optimal feeding strategies for slow-growing broilers and other alternative production systems Launch of the NOVA sow feed range, improving lactation performance and lowering piglet pre-weaning mortality, whilst increasing weaning weights and lowering culling rates
Development of a garlic bolus to support drying off cows The development of feeding strategies for reduced feather pecking in beak-treated hens Optimisation of dietary factors to reduce the occurrence of salmonella
The implementation of VITAlity Score, a tool aimed at improving the immune status of calves Optimised laying hen nutrition for longer living hens Use of Delta-Score, a monitoring system to test the health status of finishing pigs and provide nutritional solutions

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Anti-Microbial Resistance

Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) is one of the great challenges to both human and veterinary medicine as a number of bacteria are no longer responsive to antibiotics. ForFarmers looks for nutritional solutions to help customers and their vets reduce the quantity of antibiotics used in livestock production. In recent years, the use of in-feed medication has reduced or been excluded as antibiotic use continues to fall and alternatives such as water medication are developed. In Germany and the Netherlands, sector agreements are in place to ensure no in-feed medication is used. In Belgium, in-feed medication is only used for young pigs if necessary. In the United Kingdom, the O’Neill Report in October 2017 included industry reduction targets. In this respect, ForFarmers proactively shares its experience of reducing antibiotic use in the Netherlands. For example, a number of workshops

in conjunction with the National Pig Association and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) were organised to help farmers address this issue. In addition, ForFarmers provided a direct link to the electronic medicines book (e-MB-Pigs) which has been developed by the industry to help producers and their vets monitor the use of medication and take the necessary steps to reduce it.

Corporate Social Responsibility

ForFarmers recognises its role in society and in the agricultural sector with respect to Corporate Social Responsibility. It has over 25,000 farmer customers and deals with a large number of suppliers. As the Group strives to be a good corporate citizen while taking care of the local environment, it contributes to society by supporting a number of agricultural charities. These include The Farm Fresh Revolution which provides access to fresh produce with nutritional and cooking advice to children and parents in Staffordshire in the UK, the Agriterra project which enables employees to engage in initiatives aimed at helping develop the entrepreneurial skills of farmers in developing countries and the Run4Life charity, an EU-funded project aimed at creating low-impact fertilisers through nutrient recovery of human waste streams.

Dilemmas and challenges

With many interests to consider, ForFarmers faces a number of dilemmas as it develops its sustainability approach. Some dilemmas are specific to the Company whilst others pertain to society and the livestock industry in general. A selection is presented below.

The need for a coherent approach and availability of data

ForFarmers is able to calculate phosphate utilisation in swine and dairy production systems in the Netherlands because customers record the data in order to comply with domestic regulations.  The same data is not readily available in Germany, Belgium and the UK, which means ForFarmers cannot provide comparable data in all countries.

The balance between animal health and welfare and greenhouse gas emissions

In North Western Europe there is growing societal pressure on livestock production systems. Society will of course decide which production systems are acceptable, but it has to be recognised that in some cases this will mean higher greenhouse gas emissions. Examples include the production of slow growing chickens and mandatory grazing periods for dairy cows. There is no clear-cut solution as there will always have to be a balance. As nutritionists, ForFarmers will work with its customers to improve the efficiency of production within their chosen production system. 

Using higher energy in manufacturing to improve customers’ environmental impact

ForFarmers has begun to calculate and report its own GHG emissions (scope 1 and 2). For a company the size of ForFarmers, achieving this for its own manufacturing and transport activities is a major step forward. However, ForFarmers recognises that the environmental impact of its own operations is very small compared to its upstream and downstream activities. ForFarmers has started to calculate the emissions from the production and transport of raw materials in the Netherlands. At present it is not easily able to do this reliably for the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium, but will take steps in the coming years to do so, particularly as industry databases become available. This will mean the Company will be able to provide its customers with environmental impact information for the products they purchase and have delivered to the farm gate. This in turn will enable them to calculate their own Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).  In addition, it will enable ForFarmers to consider the correct balance between energy use in manufacturing and raw material use. For example, an investment could be made in processing equipment that might have higher greenhouse gas emissions (such as extruders) but reduce emissions for the customer through higher feed efficiency.

EU Protein Sources - sustainability or feed security?

A number of initiatives are underway to increase the volume of feed materials produced in Europe. These initiatives are driven by concerns over the degree to which the livestock industry depends on imports for high protein materials such as soy. 95% soy is imported into the EU (which uses approximately 30 million tonnes per annum for use in animal feeds) predominantly from the US, Brazil and Argentina. ForFarmers recognises the concerns and is developing alternatives. However, all current options increase costs for the farmer if the same level of performance is to be achieved, and consequently lead to higher prices for consumers. In addition, inclusion of many of the alternatives increases the environmental impact of livestock production rather than improving it. For instance the regionally grown soy in Germany: European soy is of lower quality because the growing circumstances are not as good as close to the equator, needs more water and regional growth uses more energy leading to a higher carbon footprint, all despite shorter transport distances. ForFarmers will continue to play an active role in the feed industry’s national and European trade associations to continue proactive dialogue with all stakeholders on this important issue.

Responsible soy and palm – customer demand or company responsibility?

ForFarmers has set an objective for 2020 to source 100% responsible soy meal and palm oil. However, there are currently significant differences in demand in the four markets in which ForFarmers operates. In Belgium and the Netherlands, there are cross-sector commitments to source 100% responsible soy meal as of 2015. In addition, there are a number of sector requirements for specific certification schemes. For example, the Dutch dairy sector has made a commitment to RTRS via the purchase of certificates. In Belgium concepts have been developed for beef production using local raw materials. In Germany and the United Kingdom there are currently no sector commitments on responsible soy. It is expected that the market will enforce changes over time. The dilemma ForFarmers faces, is that the Company considers using responsible soy the right thing to do, even in those markets in which there is no obligation to do so. By doing so, the feed product does become more expensive and other players in the market are not compelled to follow suit.

In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, there are sector commitments to purchase 100% responsible palm oil as of 2015. There are currently no sector agreements on responsible palm oil in Germany or Belgium.

The balance between health and safety and customer relationships

ForFarmers has a duty of care not only to its employees but to all of its stakeholders. In the case of on-farm safety, ForFarmers will discuss any risks that have been identified with the customer and recommend the remedial action to be taken. This is clearly a sensitive issue that is discussed with the customer and the necessary action is taken in most cases. If the customer does not respond within the agreed timeframe, ForFarmers stops supplying feed.  This puts a strain on the balance between health and safety and customer retention. 

Different societal attitudes to animal health and welfare and the need for a One ForFarmers approach

One of the implications of operating in a different countries is that consumer attitudes, regulations, and codes of practice relating to animal health and welfare differ. For example, in the United Kingdom nearly 50% of the sow-breeding herd is housed outdoors. Attitudes vary with regard to the castration of pigs and intensive broiler production. This means that it can be difficult for ForFarmers to standardise products and advice in all markets.

Governance sustainability activities

ForFarmers has a two-tier governance approach to sustainability in the form of the Sustainability Advisory Board and the Sustainability Task Force. The Sustainability Advisory Board meets twice a year and is chaired by the CEO of ForFarmers. Its role is to provide advice on ForFarmers’ sustainability strategy and on major trends and issues that should be taken into account.

The Sustainability Advisory Board is composed of three members of ForFarmers’ Executive Committee, one member of the ForFarmers Supervisory Board and six external members who are all major players in ForFarmers’ supply chain, academia and NGOs. Composed of two members of the Executive Committee and eight senior managers, the Sustainability Task Force is responsible for the implementation of ForFarmers’ sustainability approach. The task force coordinates improvement measures with respect to KPIs and provides relevant information to the Executive Committee and the Supervisory Board. 

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Innovation and Research

Innovation and research is core to ForFarmers’ Horizon 2020 strategy and is the responsibility of the Nutrition Innovation Centre (NIC). ForFarmers provides sustainable feed and advice to farmers which will lead to healthier livestock and greater efficiency which results in better returns on farm.

The Nutrition Innovation Centre is organised centrally and includes species specific nutritionists and innovation managers. The team members of NIC are not only responsible for ForFarmers’ research and innovation programme, but also for the technical performance of products supplied to customers. Moreover, they work closely with the species teams in each country and with ForFarmers’ strategic partners, such as with Nutreco, with whom joint innovation projects are undertaken.

The importance placed on innovation is illustrated by the fact that the NIC investigates on average over 40-50 research projects each year. In addition, ForFarmers leverages its extensive network, which includes many of Europe’s leading research institutes and Universities, to contribute to primary research and to the development of products and services used by farmers. The top sector initiative 'Feed4Foodure' in the Netherlands and CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) in the United Kingdom are examples of this.


ForFarmers is continuously working at improving the performance of its products by enhancing, among other things, feed efficiency. Societal interests, such as animal health and animal welfare, reducing medication, the impact of livestock farming on the environment (for instance regarding nitrogen and phosphate efficiency) and the use of raw materials are also important research themes.

All ForFarmers’ diets are formulated using a feed evaluation system developed in-house. This system sets out the nutritional parameters of each raw material and its availability (i.e. digestibility) for each species. It also takes into account, inter alia, the age of the animal. Feeds are produced which provide the correct level of nutrients for the growth and health of the animal. As genetics, health and management systems constantly evolve so does the feed evaluation system.

Reporting Frameworks 

This report has been produced according to GRI G4 (core) guidelines for the 2017 calendar year. It is acknowledged that these have been superseded by the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, although companies may use the GRI G4 guidelines for reports published up to May 2018. In this report, we present an update on the material topics chosen by ForFarmers as well as on the stakeholder dialogue and process for producing the updated materiality matrix.

The scope for reporting is included in the description of each of the materiality topics.  In 2017 ForFarmers made no changes to its sustainability approach, material topics or KPIs. 

The GRI-index 2017 can be found on the website of the Company.