In 2022, the Uelzena Group celebrated two important milestones in its company history. We celebrated the 70-year anniversary of Uelzena eG in September, the month the company was founded in 1952. Another key point in the successful company history was the commissioning of the Altmark cheese dairy 30 years ago in Bismark, Saxony-Anhalt. This anniversary was commemorated at the site with a celebration in summer 2022.
The independence and sustainable performance of the Uelzena Group is, and will remain, the ultimate goal in our corporate strategy. Our cooperative and its subsidiaries’ positive economic figures for the past few years reflect this performance and the potential of our company group. This trend also holds true for the previous business year, although the challenges in the labour market caused by the coronavirus crisis and the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2023 have only eased up slightly. In addition to the humanitarian catastrophe, in which untold misery befell an entire nation, the economic consequences were felt immediately and extensively.
In view of potential supply bottlenecks regarding the gas supply, our manufacturing sites were quickly modified to enable other fossil fuels to be used besides gas. This conversion was aimed at preventing an anticipated interruption to milk processing. Additional strategic objectives of our company group include integrating alternative energies in the future and reducing energy consumption to continually reduce our CO2 emissions. Our planned investments for 2022 were largely upheld. Following completion of the new spray-drying plant with cutting-edge technology and innovative energy management, the commissioning of this visionary development began in Uelzen.
Overall, 2022 was a gratifying year for our milk producers. The raw milk payout rose to a record level in Germany. What’s more, Uelzena’s milk payment was above the high national average. Rising prices for feed and fertilisers along with the high cost of diesel somewhat diminished the good revenue situation in the farms. For the first time, the Uelzena Group’s turnover exceeded the one-billion mark. The economic success of our dairy farmers can only be ensured by two processes: Further processing in our plants in a way that adds value, then marketing that added-value with a focus on sustainability and especially climate-friendly production. Our farmers already contribute to this by participating in the online agricultural climate check tool. At present, six dairies which are based in Lower Saxony have supported this initiative to measure the dairy’s carbon footprint. The results are intended to show where there is potential for further improvement on the farms and ensure milk production is even more eco-friendly.
The forecast for the current business year feels cautiously optimistic after a tense start. In the first few months, the dairy market experienced a sharp and substantial drop in the previously high price for fat and protein. Elevated raw milk volumes nationwide and a significantly higher price in food retail led to a scenario with excess supply. The consequences were significant reductions in sales and turnover for powdered milk, butter and butterfats. We expect this situation to ease in favour of the supply side over the second half of the year.
The Uelzena Group, as a cooperative with its dairy farmers and all its employees, will continue to master future challenges. Working together, we will remain successful!
Chairman of the Board of Uelzena eG