The HOCHDORF Group has changed greatly in the two years since the last publication of its sustainability report. On the product side, not only dry milk products are produced and sold today, but also butter, curd and buttermilk. The production of these products is significantly less energy-intensive than the production of milk powder or even infant formula. HOCHDORF had already pressed oil prior to the acquisition of Marbacher Ölmühle – VIOGERM® wheat germ products – but the quantities in the Cereals & Ingredients division have increased substantially. However, with regard to the entire produced quantity, the cereal products still only make up a small percentage.
The figures and projects on the subject of energy sources and energy consumption relate to the activity of the HOCHDORF Group, with the exception of the chocolate factory in South Africa. For a first comparison, the quantities produced as well as the consumption of energy and water at Uckermärker Milch GmbH were also recorded for 2014, although the HOCHDORF Group did not own a majority stake in this plant at that time.
The starting point for previous analyses of energy consumption was the processed quantity of liquid (milk, whey, etc.). The focus is now shifting in the direction of tonnes of product produced in total due to changes in the product line. As another innovation, the CO2 emissions of the HOCHDORF Group will also be shown for the first time.
The HOCHDORF Group processes and refines natural raw materials such as milk, whey and cereals into valuable ingredients mainly for other food manufacturers and also directly for the end customer. The most important partial processes for the production of milk powder include concentrating, drying, mixing and packaging. In the area of cereals, this is primarily the pressing of seeds and milling of press cakes into high-quality flour.
Milk and whey are raw materials that perish very quickly at room temperature. Thanks to the drying process, HOCHDORF turns milk, for example, into a food product that will last substantially longer. As a result, HOCHDORF makes a contribution to the prevention of food waste.
Drying plants generally require process heat and fresh water. They produce waste heat, CO2 and wastewater as a result. HOCHDORF is committed to handling available resources in an economical, environmentally-friendly manner. To the greatest extent possible, the waste heat is recycled back into the manufacturing process in the production plants.
A comparison of the years 2014 and 2016 shows the freshwater consumption and the accumulation of wastewater (absolute and as a percentage of the quantity produced) fell slightly. The decline is even more astonishing since a water- and wastewater-intensive process was started at the Sulgen location with the production of lactose. It was possible to achieve the reduction due to various measures in the area of water management in Sulgen. For example, we purify the water – water vapour – «obtained» from the vaporisation process and use it to flush out the lines. One of the main measures was an investment in a wastewater pre-treatment plant. This makes it possible to reduce the effluent that enters the local wastewater treatment plant. The gas obtained in the wastewater pre-treatment – roughly four gigawatt hours – is used in production.
An investment was also made in better wastewater treatment at the Medeikiai location. Thanks to a flotation system, it could be greatly improved and the pollution of the environment reduced.
The energy consumption of the HOCHDORF Group (fossil fuel energy sources and electricity) increased over two years by just 2.1 % from 264.4 to 269.9 gigawatt hours. During the same time period, the product quantity produced increased to 236,179 tonnes (+1.3 %). The CO2 values were calculated by conversion factors on the basis of the original energy source. Accordingly, the HOCHDORF production plants emit over 57,000 tonnes of CO2 (+1.5 % in comparison to 2014). Per tonne of produced product, the CO2 emissions have hardly changed, however.
The consumption of energy solely increased at the Swiss plants in the two-year comparison. HOCHDORF Baltic Milk processed significantly less milk, which led to a reduction in the absolute energy requirements. As a percentage of the produced quantity, however, the need for energy increased. It can be seen that utilised systems can be run more energy-efficiently.
In Uckermark, the two-year comparison showed a lower consumption of energy with slightly higher quantities of produced products. In total, dry products were produced less, and the production of buttermilk is less energy-intensive than, for example, the production of curd. Furthermore, the usage of energy could be optimised thanks to modernisation of the control system in the drying process.
The over 10 % increase in the consumption of energy at the Swiss plants can be explained by the insourcing of the lactose production. In the past, 100 % of the lactose was purchased in powder form and used as an ingredient for infant formula. Today HOCHDORF produces most of the required lactose itself. The lactose produced in the company's own plant is added to the infant formula recipe in liquid form. The company's own production causes HOCHDORF Swiss Nutrition to need more energy in total and emit CO2. In the product balance, this insourcing will result in significant energy and CO2 savings. Transport and an energy-intensive drying process are no longer necessary.
Furthermore, the CO2 recovery equipment at the Sulgen plant as mentioned in the last sustainability report was put into operation. This equipment processes the CO2 emitted by burners for further use, specifically in the packaging of foods.
As a user of agricultural raw materials, the HOCHDORF Group is dependent on an intact environment. As a first-level processor, we know that high-quality raw materials like milk, grain and oil seeds can only be manufactured in an intact environment. In Switzerland, HOCHDORF has made a commitment to the Industrial Energy Agency to reduce CO2 emissions even more. In order to achieve this goal, the group will increasingly invest in new, energy-efficient systems. Accordingly, a modern system for concentrating milk is starting up in spring 2017 at the Hochdorf site as well as a high rack storage area at the Sulgen site in the autumn of 2017. As a result, a large number of lorry trips are no longer necessary.