Like many other food producers, we are in the midst of a fast-changing environment. In a world recovering from a pandemic, more people are questioning what they want – from the products they buy to the way they live their lives.
We also face a climate crisis, and we recognise that our business needs to play its role. Agriculture and manufacturing contribute to climate change, and in turn, are subject to a changing climate. We have a responsibility to our consumers and society to always do the right thing – to run our business as efficiently as possible, reducing the amount of energy and raw materials we use, and help our suppliers to do the same.
We must also help our consumers make better choices too, by delivering healthy and nutritious food, produced in ways that minimise damage to the environment.
We’re committed to understanding and responding to the changes in our environment to make sure we are equipped to build a sustainable business that looks after people and the planet, with high standards of animal welfare.
Our approach to sustainability for both Lactalis UK & Ireland and Lactalis Nestlé Chilled Dairy (LNCD) is focused on what’s important to our businesses, but also crucially what is important to our stakeholders, including our employees and suppliers, our farmers and our customers. The wider needs of society and the environment are also critical.
In addressing a range of sustainability issues, we have four core Areas of Focus:
Pursuing excellence and opportunity for all
HEALTH & SAFETY
ATTRACTING & DEVELOPING PEOPLE
SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE
Supporting suppliers in production excellence and sustainability
Producing the best dairy products for quality and sustainability
HEALTH & NUTRITION
FOOD SAFETY & FOOD WASTE
TRANSPARENCY & RESPONSIBLE MARKETING
Pursuing excellence and opportunity for all
At Lactalis, people matter. We are a family business connected by shared values, ethics and a passion for making products that bring people closer together.
We are focused on ensuring our employees, our facilities and offices are safe, dynamic and enjoyable places to work. Employee safety and wellbeing is paramount.
Today, we have 550 employees across the two businesses, and four production sites spread throughout the UK, in Scotland, Wales and England. These are located in major dairy areas, in the heart of the countryside and we are typically an important employer in each local area. We’re committed to supporting these communities and our partner charities.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Keeping people healthy and safe is at the heart of our culture, and core to the Lactalis Group long-term plan for Human Resources. Our focus goes far beyond making sure people do not get injured at our production sites. It is also about giving people the support they need to maintain good physical and mental health, and promote a better work-life balance.
ATTRACTING & DEVELOPING TALENTED PEOPLE
People are at the heart of our achievements. We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce, offering an extensive range of career opportunities. And we develop our own talent internally, wherever possible, and supplement this by bringing in great talent from outside the organisation.
We give people the time, space and support to shine in a dynamic and fast-paced working environment thanks to our dedicated training programmes. We offer interesting careers where ambition, delivery, creativity and teamwork are rewarded and recognised, as well as a good work/life balance.
SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
We are committed to developing and supporting local economies and communities. Our UK dairy plants in Stranraer, Scotland, Lubborn, Somerset and Aberystwyth in Wales are located in rural regions steeped in milk, yoghurt and cheese-making tradition. By maintaining these roots in traditional dairy regions, we are helping to preserve multi-generational farming and cheese-making expertise, passion and excellence.
We are also proud to partner with a number of UK charities, and use our platform to raise funds and awareness for our chosen charities.
Supporting suppliers in production excellence and sustainability
We source milk from around 150 farmers in the UK, local to our production sites, as well as a range of ingredients and products from other suppliers. These suppliers are vital to our business. Without them we will not be able to continue producing our quality dairy products.
To be a sustainable dairy business, we must not only ensure that we are running our own operations well, but we must also ensure that our suppliers and partners are doing all they can to be responsible too.
SUPPORTING OUR FARMERS
Buying milk directly from local farms close to our factories has many benefits. The proximity to factory means that our dedicated farm management team are able to make regular visits to our supplying farms, building and maintaining strong relationships with our producers.
We believe in treating our farming partners fairly and with respect. This means making sure they are paid fairly to help sustain their own businesses and supported to improve the sustainability of their operations and farms. We also pay premiums to farmers to incentivise the supply of high-quality milk for cheese and yoghurt making.
We maintain a close working partnership with our farmer suppliers through a combination of direct liaison with our Farm Supply Managers, and formal meetings with farmer representatives to negotiate milk prices, agree milk supply volumes, update contracts and initiate development projects. In our largest milk field in Scotland, the farmers representative body has fully constituted itself as a co-operative, the Milk Suppliers Association.
We are dedicated to improving farm standards and the sustainability of our farmers’ businesses for future generations. In 2019, we launched our first Lactalis Sourcing Standard. Click below for more information.
The Lactalis Sourcing Standard defines our current and future positions on key issues that are important to our farmers, customers, and consumers. Through meetings and farm visits, we foster the sharing of knowledge, ideas and encourage best practice.
Key areas of focus to date include:
As the one of the UK’s leading dairy businesses, our farmers look after over 40,000 animals so animal welfare is at the core of everything we do. Animal welfare is a fundamental to the sustainability of our activities, and as all our partnering farms know, there is a close link between animal welfare and milk production.
The foundation of animal welfare revolves around the Five Freedoms. This principle is globally recognised as the gold standard in animal welfare. The standards encompass animal mental and physical well-being, and includes:
Our farmers adhere to the Red Tractor Assurance Dairy Scheme (RTADS) as well as our sourcing standard requirements. The standards ensure cows are well looked after to maintain their health and welfare, and that the milk is produced in hygienic conditions and stored safely. We, in turn, regularly audit our farms to ensure they share our commitment to the best care and treatment of their dairy cows.
Our UK Procurement team drives an agenda of continuous improvement for all goods and services purchased for the business including packaging, ingredients, and energy. We follow the Lactalis Group Ethical Codes of Procurement Practice which recognises our corporate and social responsibilities, and, with our suppliers, we lead innovation. Click below for more information.
The key areas of focus for our sustainable approach to procurement
We recognise that a significant proportion of our environmental impacts comes from transporting our products around the UK, from farm to manufacturing facilities and to retailers. We are committed to minimising this impact as much as possible.
In the last two years, we have optimised our use of 1.8 metre pallets, making sure everything is picked and stacked correctly. By reducing the number of pallets we use, we have reduced our road miles by around 700,000 kilometres (km) a year.
We’ve worked with our customers to improve packaging to better fit the pallets for distribution. Open-top cases have been removed and many of the sizes of the packages have been changed to reduce the air between products being delivered. For our trucks coming in from Europe, we increased the height of pallets, taking two trucks off the road per week and reducing our mileage by 2,500km a week.
PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING
Producing the best dairy products for quality, provenance and sustainability
Our customers can be confident that our range of products will be high quality, safely packaged, and nutritious and delicious.
We do all we can to deliver the very highest quality dairy products, made simply with natural ingredients and to seek to preserve dairy know-how. We also favour natural product offerings and recipes. This commitment is evidenced by the fact that the wider Lactalis Group has become the third largest dairy player in the global organic sector (by turnover). In the UK, Rachel’s is our core organic brand.
We also recognise that, increasingly, consumers understand the importance of being healthy, and the role food can play in that. We have a responsibility to help them by continuing to offer a wide choice of healthy and nutritious products, with ingredients that are sustainably sourced, while reducing food waste and the environmental impact of our packaging.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
Health and nutrition is core to our mission. With renewed attention on fat, sugar and salt reduction to help tackle obesity and other health problems and to contribute to wellbeing, we are committed to ensure that our products support these aims and fit within a broader agenda of healthy eating habits.
We are fully committed to Public Health England’s sugar and fat reduction programme, and we have an ongoing programme of innovation, reformulation and size reduction to remove calories and reduce sugar in our products. We are taking a phased approach to sugar reduction for our existing products so that consumers become gradually accustomed to a reduced sugar content rather than just switching to a high sugar alternative.
Since 2015, we have reduced sugar by over 20% in our LNCD yoghurt products.
For our Munch Bunch range, we will launch products with lower than average or no added sugar. By the end of 2022 we are aiming for all our products to have no more than 10.7g per 100g sugar content, well below the recommended amount.
We are also developing a range of non-high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) mousses and yoghurts for launch in 2022.
FOOD SAFETY AND FOOD WASTE
The quality and safety of our products is a number one priority for our business. We comply with all internal and external food safety, regulatory and quality requirements. And we make sure that our focus on quality and safety is embedded throughout our business.
We continue to review and adapt our product shelf-life to minimise waste while ensuring our products meet consumer expectations and that quality standards are being met.
TRANSPARENCY AND RESPONSIBLE MARKETING
We are honest, transparent and upfront about what’s in our products so that consumers have the right information to make the decisions that are right for themselves and their families. This means we use clear labelling to indicate things like appropriate portion sizes, and sugar and fat content.
While plastic has a climate impact and its disposal can be highly problematic, it has an important role in protecting our products, reducing food waste and providing safe consumption. So, we are focused on developing more sustainable packaging options for our products.
We are looking to remove problematic plastics, reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging we use and improve opportunities for it be recycled. Click Remove, Reduce or Recycle to see our progress.
Minimising our impact on the environment and tackling the climate crisis
Farming and food production contributes to climate change and also has wider impacts upon biodiversity and water use. The entire supply chain must work together to find solutions that enable us to continue to provide the healthy food we need while not damaging the environment.
We know that agriculture can be part of the solution, through capturing and storing carbon and increasing biodiversity, and we’re committed to doing more in this area.
Up to 80% of the carbon footprint of our products is linked to activities from assets not owned or controlled by us, including farms. It’s important we address these aspects, not least in the way we move our raw materials and products around, and power our factories.
We are committed to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) we are putting into the atmosphere, and helping our suppliers and farmers to do the same.
Depending on the range of dairy products we locally produce, the raw milk production step operated by our partners in farms generates a significant amount of our total carbon emissions.
Aligned with the Lactalis Group, our ambition is become net zero by 2050. That means creating no GHGs as a business, both within our own operations (Scopes 1 and 2) and across our supply chains (Scope 3).
This won’t be easy, so the plan is to do it in stages.
We know that to make these reductions, we must first measure our impact along our entire value chain. With a clear vision of our footprint, we can manage and reduce the emissions at our operations and from our products to make them better for the planet. We will use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG), a robust international methodology for measuring and managing GHG emissions throughout our whole value chain, to help guide us.
These commitments are set to be recognised by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), meaning they are aligned with the best available science on what is required to sufficiently address the climate crisis.
LOOKING AFTER THE ENVIRONMENT
As a signatory of the WRAP Food Reduction Roadmap, LNCD is committed to reducing its waste by 2% year on year – a 25% improvement between 2015 and 2030.
Through our Rachel’s range of products, we promote the use of organic farming. Organic takes a ‘whole system’ approach to farming and food production, limiting the use of chemicals and protecting the health of soils, enhancing biodiversity and protecting the wellbeing of animals.