In the past two years, the HOCHDORF Group sold a significant proportion of its subsidiaries. The figures and projects relating to energy sources and energy consumption therefore refer here exclusively to the Swiss sites in Hochdorf and Sulgen.
The starting point for the analyses of energy consumption is the volume of products manufactured in Hochdorf and Sulgen. Compared to 2018, the volume of products produced in 2020 decreased by –12.6% to 53,991 tonnes. This is due in particular to the low plant utilisation in the Baby Care division. In addition, two spray towers in need of renovation were shut down in Hochdorf in January 2020. The third influence was an increase in domestic consumption of fresh dairy products and cheese in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the restriction of shopping tourism to nearby foreign countries. The volume of milk for processing into long-life dairy products was correspondingly lower.
Due to the low utilisation of some plants, HOCHDORF required less fossil and electrical energy in 2020 than in previous years. However, when converted to the necessary energy input per tonne, it can be seen that plants working at capacity produce products more efficiently. In addition, proportionally more spray powder was produced (spray drying is significantly more energy-intensive than roller drying). The same picture emerges in connection with CO2 emissions: a decrease in absolute CO2 emissions with simultaneous increase in CO2 emissions per tonne of product produced.
The same effect can be seen in water consumption. The absolute amount of fresh water used was reduced compared to previous years. However, a relative analysis shows that fresh water consumption has again increased slightly compared to 2018. The additional cleaning required for underutilised facilities is relevant here. Frequent product changes increase the amount of cleaning required.
The choice of packaging also influences energy consumption and the CO2 balance. For its own brand, Bimbosan, HOCHDORF now uses bags made from renewable raw materials wherever possible. Among other things, the packaging is made of polyethylene (PE) from renewable raw materials, the production of which consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. The bio-plastic is therefore environmentally friendly and improves the CO2 balance. Furthermore, Bimbosan offers its customers an ecological solution with practical refill bags.
Bimbosan sold the first palm-oil-free baby food in Switzerland. Now almost all infant formula, follow-on formula and children's milks are produced without palm oil, as are all baby porridges, cereal products and snacks. In addition, HOCHDORF offers its business customers in the baby care sector the opportunity to produce their products without palm oil.
The most important sub-processes for the production of baby milks and various milk, whey and protein powders include concentrating, drying, mixing and packaging. The drying process in particular is especially energy-intensive.
In order to avoid multiple drying of lactose, HOCHDORF has launched an Innosuisse research project as part of the federal government's innovation funding. The aim is to use the lactose produced in Sulgen in liquid form in infant formula, thereby saving an additional drying process. This is where technological competence, innovative strength and the conservation of environmental resources come together.
At the beginning of 2020, a company-wide efficiency programme was launched under the project name "OPTIMA". Projects that increase efficiency are often also sustainability projects.
In particular, the projects on waste avoidance, reducing plant losses and optimising the use of resources and water can be included in this respect. We expect significant sustainability effects from these areas in the coming years.