The HOCHDORF Group has changed greatly in the two years since the last publication of its sustainability report. The years 2017 and 2018 were shaped by investments and acquisitions. The construction and commissioning of new production and filling plants and the high-bay warehouse in Sulgen had an impact on energy consumption. While the production of butter, curd and buttermilk at the Uckermark plant declined last year, the share of energy-intensive milk drying processes increased significantly.
The figures and projects on energy sources and energy consumption relate to production activities of the HOCHDORF Group, excluding Zifru Trockenprodukte GmbH. The chocolate plant HOCHDORF South Africa Ltd was newly included in the calculations.
Focus on product quantity
The starting point for previous analyses of energy consumption was the processed quantity of products. This has fallen by around 40% compared to 2016. The drop is attributable both to lower curd and butter production and the temporary closure of the curd business at Uckermärker Milch GmbH, as well as to the sale of the production plant in Lithuania. In addition, the total quantity of liquid has fallen by around 13% since 2016.
HOCHDORF processes and refines natural raw materials such as milk, whey, cereals and fruit and vegetables into valuable ingredients, mainly for other food manufacturers but 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. The freshly harvested fruits and vegetables are washed, cut into bite-sized slices and gently dried in one of the largest air drying plants in Europe.
Making products with short shelf lives last longer
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.
Water and wastewater
In 2018, fresh water consumption and wastewater volume fell in absolute terms compared to 2016. As a percentage of the produced quantity, however, the consumption increased. This was due to the strong construction activity at the Sulgen site, the commissioning of new plants at various locations and changes to the product range.
For example, the new infant formula line was put into operation in Sulgen, and the ice-water plant in Prenzlau was renovated and refilled. The switch to the production of special milk powders, such as the kosher label Badatz, has also increased water consumption. Due to the strict specifications, the equipment must be properly cleaned before each Badatz production. In addition, due to the unusually hot summer of 2018, more water had to be used for cooling purposes.
South Africa suffered from a precarious water shortage in the summer of 2018. A permanent "low water usage policy" was implemented in the plant as a separate measure to save water. Two 10,000 litre rainwater tanks were installed to supply the sanitary facilities. Other measures included recycling of condensed water from the air-conditioning system and water conservation training for employees.
The energy consumption of the HOCHDORF Group (fossil fuels and electricity) fell by almost 10% over the period of two years from 269.9 to 244.6 gigawatt hours. Over the same period, the manufactured product volume fell to 141,380 tonnes (–40.1%). The CO2 results were calculated using conversion factors based on the original energy source. On this basis, HOCHDORF's production plants emitted over 51,989 tonnes of CO2 in 2018 (–9.1 % compared to 2016). On a per tonne of manufactured product basis, however, the CO2 emissions have increased considerably due to the relatively smaller quantity of manufactured products.
The energy consumption of the Swiss plants decreased slightly over the past two years. The quantity of products made by HOCHDORF Swiss Nutrition also declined slightly. The construction and commissioning of the new plants in Sulgen was energy-intensive. The new, state-of-the-art automatic high-bay warehouse also consumes additional energy. As a result, HOCHDORF was able to reduce the quantities stored at external service providers and the number of truck journeys. Various other measures also helped HOCHDORF cut CO2 emissions, for example, by installing a new concentration plant in Hochdorf or by replacing the condensate drain in Sulgen.
The Uckermark plant consumed slightly more energy over the past two years, despite lower quantities of products being made there. This is mainly due to the enormous increase in the share of milk powder manufactured there (+40% compared to the previous year) as the production of milk powder is much more energy intensive than the production of curd, butter or buttermilk. Thanks to the new, more energy-efficient ice water facility, 4% of total electricity could be saved.
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. Once the recently commissioned plants are operating at full capacity, the CO2 emissions per manufactured product will be cut even further.