Monday, June 28, 2010

B2B Yes you can! Danisco shows how.

It is quite a pleasure to write about a recently published Sustainability Report - this time from Danisco, the Danish bio-based food ingredients supplier. It is a pleasure not only because the Danisco report is somewhat different from most of the reports you will see flying around these days, but also, because, by way of disclosure, I supported Danisco in the development of this particular report. Don't get me wrong - Danisco did all the hard work - I came in at the back end of the process to offer some specific assistance to the reporting team. Anyway, let me tell you a little about Danisco and their 2010 Sustainability Report

Danisco uses raw materials from nature and transforms them into ingredients which contribute to the improved sustainability of our lives - mainly ingredients which improve the quality and health properties of what we eat, but also of things we wear, drive, use and interact with in many different ways. In fact, I had been familiar with Danisco as a food ingredients supplier - I had no idea of the wide range of applications their products can serve. Danisco is based in sunny Copenhagen, Denmark, employes 6,800 people, and operates from over 49 manufacturing sites around the world. Danisco’s ingredients are used globally in a wide range of industries including bakery, dairy, beverages,  animal feed, laundry detergents, tyre manufacture, and bioethanol. Danisco's Sustainability Director, Jeff Hogue, is a frequent social-media-ite and tweets as @JeffreyHogue.

The most significant thing about Danisco's sustainability impacts are that they are greatest once the shipments have left the plant. Many companies' significant impacts are indirect in this way. But Danisco's impacts are two degrees removed - first they sell to manufacturing businesses, then the manufacturing businesses sell their brands to the final consumer. So, although Danisco might not be a household name (well, except perhaps, in Copenhagen),  Danisco makes a far greater impact on our lives than you might guess, doing so through the way the Company develops innovative technology and new products, and supports and collaborates with its customers who make the end products we consume. Take bread, for instance. Danisco tells us that  "In the UK alone, more than 320,000 tonnes of bread is discarded each year because it has lost its freshness. Methane produced by that waste equates to more than 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents." Addition of Danisco enzymes can help  keep bread fresher up to seven days longer, potentially saving two million tonnes of flour per year and making more bread available with no increase in flour. In the UK alone. Think of that as applicable worldwide. Big numbers. How many times have you thrown out bread that became stale and unappetizing ? It happens, right ? Danisco doesn't make bread. But through Danisco's work with bread-manufacturing companies and bakeries, the consumers have access to a much more sustainable product and lifestyle.

Another example? Take this story about milk in Kenya: " In 2007, worldwide milk production is estimated to be 655 million tonnes with over 30% produced in developing countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts that demand for milk in the developing world will double by 2030. Developing countries are not self-sufficient with milk, and dairy imports to developing countries in value terms grew by 43% between 1998 and 2001.The vast majority of the milk in developing countries is produced on small-scale farms (fewer than five milking cows), without cooling systems. The FAO estimates that 25-50% of the milk from small-scale farmers is wasted." Danisco is working on a technology involving adding an enzyme to the milk at the point of production which would extend the life of milk for 12-15 hours without cooling - thereby avoiding most of the waste in this supply system. This development offers a tremendous economic, social and environmental benefit, a true sustainability springboard. Danisco does not produce milk either. As consumers, we are happily unaware of the positive impact on the sustainability of our lives that the Danisco range of products offer, yet we gain the benefit in many of our everyday consumption patterns. One final example of a super development is in the area of car tyre production - in a collaborative project with Goodyear, Danisco is developing a bio-based, renewable synthetic rubber for use in car tyres with an investment of $50 million, to support our move away from dependency on fossil-based fuels. Renewable car tyres. Danisco are not in the tyre business, but when you are taking your new hybrid out for a spin, you will be able to rest assured that fuel consumption is low not only in the engine but also in the road-grip. These examples represent the core "ingredients for sustainability" proposition that is the backbone of Danisco's sustainability strategy and 2010 report.

Danisco's reporting squarely places these issues in context. Going way beyond the Company's internal, direct, impacts - and these are reported comprehensively (massive reductions in waste, total carbon emissions, water consumption and wastewater generation in the environmental sphere and significant positive workplace improvements including reduced accident rates etc,)  Danisco's report addresses overarching challenges our global society faces in the run-up to 2050, where the global population will increase to 9 billion (from 6.8 billion) and will need solutions to food security issues, dependence on fossil fuels and petroleum-based chemicals, and  growing health issues. Danisco explains the naure of these challenges, the associated risks, and strategy that Danisco has developed to adapt its core business proposition to support finding the right solutions - the right "ingredients for sustainability". 

As mentioned, I am entirely not impartial in relation to this particular Company report, though I spare you many other interesting aspects that I would have been pleased to mention (I know blog-readers have short-attention spans) but I hope this will not prevent you from taking a look at the Danisco report and pondering the broader issues we face as a society and the role that responsible businesses play, even those whose brand-names doen't jump out at us from the supermarket shelf or the car showroom. And when B2B Companies tell you that CSR doesn't apply to them because they don't produce consumer-facing brands, you can quote the Danisco report as absolute proof of the opposite.

elaine cohen is a CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter and Co-Manager of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at

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