How does a 150 gram package of ham impact the climate? The applied sustainability initiative from BASF is making sustainability measurable. With a strategic sustainability approach and innovative instruments, applied sustainability helps consumer goods manufacturers in measuring the sustainability of their products and optimizing them on an individual basis. Here our applied sustainability team examines the entire value chain.
It was 1820 when the German poet Heinrich Heine described the northern German region of Westphalia as the „Mother country of the ham“. The name still fits perfectly today: In the middle of the green countryside of Westphalia we find Westfleisch, one of Europe‘s leading marketers of meat products. Slaughtering, cutting, processing and refining of meat specialties brought Westfleisch revenues totaling 2.16 billion Euros in 2011 (including export subsidiaries, consolidated).
Social and ecological responsibility are high priorities at Westfleisch. „Climate protection means much more than just energy-efficiency in production and operational management: Westfleisch takes responsibility for the climate impact of its products,“ says Managing Board Chairman Dr. Helfried Giesen regarding the Westfleisch sustainability strategy, formulated with the assistance of the applied sustainability experts at BASF.
Using a comprehensive approach, the applied sustainability team, led at the European level by Dr. Christoph Günther, investigated how much greenhouse gas (CO2) is generated along the entire value creation chain – from animal feed production all the way to product consumption and disposal. Knowing how much greenhouse gas emissions are generated – and where exactly along the value chain – is the crucial prerequisite for continuously reducing emissions and effectively communicating this success to the market.
Supported and realized by BASFs applied sustainability team, the CO2 footprint yielded insightful results: Although processing meat is an energy-intensive part of meat production, slaughtering, cutting and processing account for only a small part of the greenhouse gases produced. In fact, animal feed has a much stronger effect on the CO2 footprint: More than 50 percent of the CO2 footprint for pork production is based on this factor. This includes CO2-relevant fertilizers and measures for plant breeding and plant protection upstream in the value creation chain.
Another interesting fact is the differing CO2 footprints of the various product types: While 1 kg of raw pork has a CO2 footprint of 3.2 kg, the footprint for packaged boiled ham is 3.6 kg and as a result of the energy-intensive drying process, „raw cold-cuts“ (such as salami) weigh in with CO2 footprints of as much as 4 kg.
We also worked with Westfleisch to formulate the CO2 footprint for veal and beef. The CO2 footprint is an important initial step in the quantitative evaluation of sustainability. Additional milestones on the way to more sustainability are for example the so-called „perception analysis” and an integrated traceability strategy. In the „perception analysis“ the applied sustainability team investigates which topics are particularly relevant, from the point of view of the producer, but also from the point of view of external interest groups. This qualitative analysis focuses for example on topics such as animal welfare and social aspects, energy consumption and pollution. The results form the basis for the formulation of specific measures aimed at optimizing sustainability and thus also improving public perception.
Thanks to BASF, as a leading company in the meat production sector we were able to determine an extensive CO2 footprint for our products. This lets us distinguish ourselves from market competition and actively accommodate our trade partners while meeting consumer expectations at the same time. The expertise and personal interaction with the applied sustainability team is of great value to us.
Christoph Günther explains: „There are a variety of levers for fine-tuning the improvement of sustainability. With our comprehensive approach we find potential for optimization along the entire value chain and help our customers exploit this potential. First of all, the customer profits from greater resource efficiency. Second, the approach generates additional value, which shines a positive light on the customer’s brand.