The HOCHDORF-Group maintains a lively discussion with internal and external stakeholders and target groups. Good relations with customers, employees and shareholders are of key importance to us. We also maintain regular contact with authorities, associations and local residents.
At our locations both at home and abroad we receive strong backing for our commercial success. We are an international and reliable partner. In this function we currently bear a major responsibility, with 347 full-time employees in Switzerland and 242 abroad. With a payroll of nearly CHF 47.8 million, we are an important player in regional commerce and for the Treasury at our locations. Local trades also benefit as far as possible from our investment projects.
The companies in the HOCHDORF Group see themselves as both customers and partners of productive agriculture. In addition to regular production, HOCHDORF helps to even out seasonal volume fluctuations and stabilise the market with its drying plants. By purchasing, processing and selling agricultural raw materials we enable many farming families to achieve a regular income.
We are particularly proud of the procurement of cocoa beans for our chocolate products in South Africa. It is rare for an African chocolate producer to procure its cocoa beans directly from Africa. We procure our cocoa beans from around 60 cocoa farmers in Tanzania. The cocoa beans are shipped directly from Tanzania to Cape Town and processed and sold by us in Africa. Thanks to this procedure the entire value chain stays on the African continent.
HOCHDORF takes part in some 50 national industry organisations, interest associations, expert commissions, and working groups and is committed to achieving good understanding, including in the Federation of Swiss Food Industries (fial), the Organisation for the Milk Sector (BOM), the Association of the Swiss Milk Industry (VMI), the Association of the German Milk Industry (MIV) and the foundation «Switzerland Folic Acid Campaign».
The HOCHDORF Group places great importance on good and effective communication. In this regard, Corporate Communications ensures that all internal and external information is up to date, accessible, and tailored to the target groups. It is important that all stakeholder groups receive information that is as timely and needs-related as possible. As a stock exchange-listed company, we comply with the directive on ad hoc publicity of the SIX Swiss Exchange. Internal communication channels include the monthly CEO newsletter, the intranet, e-mails, on-screen messages, a monthly information sheet and wall posters. There are also two information events every year for employees at all the Group's Swiss locations. The internal information policy is set down in writing and guarantees that our messages are appropriately forwarded to every level. In return, the employees have the opportunity to pass on their input via their immediate line managers or directly to the CEO.
The Annual Report, a letter to shareholders about the half-year financial statements, the customer magazine, HOCHDORF Inside, and various e-newsletters, keep shareholders and customers regularly updated on the course of business, developments in the Group, and the market environment. Media representatives and analysts are also informed about the annual figures at the annual results press conference. The HOCHDORF Group reports about any special events on an ad-hoc basis by means of press releases. All the latest information can be viewed at any time on the website(www.hochdorf.com) and some of it is also disseminated via social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Since the end of 2016 our key customers have also found all the relevant product documentation and specifications on an extranet specifically set up for them.
For the HOCHDORF Group, small sponsorships and donations are a component of its social responsibility. The Group concentrates its commitment in this regard particularly on activities in the vicinity of its locations, as well as on the areas of sport and charitable commitments.
The HOCHDORF Group funds the Hochdorf football club (FCH) as its main sponsor, as well as the figure skating school and the hockey club. In addition, we have supported various events in the vicinity of Sulgen and Hochdorf, such as the Easter Show Jumping in Amriswil and the Lake Baldegg Run in Hitzkirch. We also sponsored some one-off anniversary events for tennis and mountaineering clubs, for example. In terms of charities, the HOCHDORF Group has supported the local Samaritan association with Heliomalt and milk during blood donation events. We have also been involved in the «Chenderhand Seetal» association for four years. The association arranges childcare making it possible for many women to harmonise family and work responsibilities.
In its core business area the HOCHDORF Group supports the Eastern Switzerland Food Forum and the regional Hochdorf/Seetal cattle shows, and for several years has also acted as sponsor for advanced training in agricultural and domestic management at the Nature and Nutrition Training Centre in Hohenrain. With its donations, the HOCHDORF Group supported about 170 camps, associations, and organisations in the 2015 and 2016 business years with products such as Heliomalt, wheat germ shakers, VIOGERM® Wellness Crisps, and FEMTORP® Mousse. The associations and schools value our involvement very highly.
At our location in South Africa we sponsored the local library, as well as various community activities and clubs. We have recently been cooperating with «Mandela Tea» on the launch of a chocolate line, some of the profits from which will go to the «Mandela Day school library project».
At our location in Lithuania we supported the Lithuanian ladies double sculls in the Olympic rowing regatta, up to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. The team rewarded us with a bronze medal. At the regional level we sponsored various cultural events in Birzai, such as the annual town carnival, the theatre festival and special shows in the Castle Museum, as well as charitable activities such as the organisation of Christmas gifts for the reception classes at the primary school in Medeikiai.
At international level we have supported Peruvian nuns with non-cash gifts for many years. The nuns are active in rural areas of Peru, not only providing spiritual welfare services but also performing numerous social tasks such as distributing medicines, giving lessons in hygiene, working as midwives and nurses, etc. Instead of giving gifts to customers at Christmastime, the HOCHDORF Group has donated an amount to the Zoodo Switzerland Foundation for the past four years. With our contribution we support a baby orphanage in Burkina Faso.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the «Swiss Nutrition Report» identified a lack of sufficient folic acid provision worldwide. Closing the folic acid gap is today one of the most important measures for improving our health and quality of life. The HOCHDORF Group has been active in this area since the «Switzerland Folic Acid Campaign» foundation was established, and thanks to cold-pressed VIOGERM® wheat germ products, it manufactures numerous products under the folic acid label.