Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter operates through our brands, Lyckeby, Solam, Culinar and Kockens, on a global market that in the last financial year has been strongly affected by the invasion of Ukraine. Both from the human perspective and the more business-relevant, where inflation, high energy prices and a poor economic situation have had a clear effect on our business. Global uncertainty reveals our society’s vulnerability, and the necessity for us as a company to work in a methodical and long-term way with our sustainability process.
Despite this operating context, I’m happy to see our sustainability process continue with undiminished energy, lofty ambitions and good progress. We have made important long-term strategic decisions about our product range on the starch side. During the past financial year we have also had to make a few tough decisions to ensure our business can continue to operate on an everyday basis. Here are a few examples of our work with sustainability during the past year:
Culinar and Kockens continue to strive to improve social, economic and environmental conditions for growers around the world, and during the year Kockens chose to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification for all of its conventional black pepper, and also launched organic chili and paprika. For the first time we have calculated carbon footprints for Culinar and Kockens, and can see that our focus on packaging is justified. We will therefore be continuing our work to create more climate-smart packaging, including through using bio-based/recycled plastic wherever possible. The work to reduce the use of plant protection products for growing starch potatoes continues with the same enthusiasm, in a close collaboration between our growers and grower advisors. We’re well on the way to reaching our ambitious goals, but a lot of work remains to achieve a sustainable solution.
We have continued to invest and adjust our work processes to reduce energy consumption, which has produced very pleasing results. Unfortunately we were forced to increase the proportion of LPG in our starch production during 2022, as there was great uncertainty about energy supplies. We did this knowing that in the short term it would increase our carbon dioxide emissions. In retrospect, it turns out that we could have used our stocks of bio-oil, as the energy shortage wasn’t as dramatic as we had feared, and today we have returned to our strategy of reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
We have been granted a new authorization for starch production – an important milestone in our strategy based on volume growth for starch products. As part of this, we have also established the main orientation for our product portfolio. We will focus on what we call the products of the future, which include our Clean Label range. In our dialogs, we see a continuing increased interest in the green protein shift, and E number-free starches – an interest we aim to satisfy. Following the review of our product portfolio, we have also decided that after 2024 we will end our hydroxypropylated range, thus phasing out the use of propylene oxide from our production. Propylene oxide is on the EU’s list of products to be phased out, and the substance has a negative effect on both the working environment and our process water, so we are convinced that this is the right decision. The decision also means that our current Seveso classification will come to an end.
During the financial year we have begun working on a set of shared core values for the entire Swedish business. The aim is to give all of our employees and managers a sense of community that will create satisfaction and security, and a sustainable company in the long term.
My ambition is for us to work with all of our employees, owners, customers and collaboration partners to continue developing our sustainability process. Personally, I’m convinced that we must accelerate this process with regard to our environment and nature, for us as humans, and not least from an economic perspective.
I hope you will find our sustainability report interesting. We welcome questions about the content. This year I’m particularly pleased that we have also included our Czech business in the report.