Giving our best every day
2021 was yet another year requiring rapid responses at short notice. Despite everything, it was also a major milestone for the future viability of the Uelzena Group. In the reporting year, we found ourselves once again dealing with exceptional circumstances. The pandemic escalated at the end of the year with far-reaching effects on sales markets, supply chains and prices for preliminary work. Inflation, together with price and tariff increases, were visible indications of the overall economic situation. Logistics, packaging, labour costs, energy and raw materials rose in price tremendously. Since the start of this year, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has also impacted oil and gas prices as well as the global agriculture and food sector, in addition to the resulting humanitarian crisis. Market prices improved in favour of dairy farmers. At the same time, feed, fertiliser and diesel costs also shot up. It was therefore even more pressing to achieve an economically viable price for our milk producers, which we were pleased to achieve in the reporting year.
The planned investments pressed ahead in 2021. Construction of the new spray-drying tower continued at a brisk pace. Existing projects in Uelzen are resulting in cost reductions and environmentally friendly production. The new agglomeration plant in Ratzeburg was completed in 2021 to expand capacity in the Instant Beverages division and preparations for the Bismark site to expand the cheese dairy are in full swing. We were also able to safeguard whey processing through a strategic participation. In cooperation with major industrial customers, various investment projects were implemented at the site in Warmsen to improve supply availability. Market development up to the end of the year and the outlook for the first six months of 2022 fill us with confidence for the future.
Despite numerous challenges, we have retained our focus on sustainability topics and made consistent progress. A second survey round of the QM dairy sustainability tool was successfully completed in the reporting year with the results showing that the dairy farmers in the Uelzena Group are already actively addressing many issues that are important to society. Land-based animal husbandry, taking into account animal welfare matters, is widely possible in our geographic area. The focus on the upstream section – specifically milk production – is critical with regards to climate protection. This is why, as part of a joint project, we are involved in a large-scale investigation into the carbon footprint of the milk. The objective is to gain an overview of greenhouse gas emissions from milk production and to work out possible strategies to reduce these emissions. The Group has also continued to work on future-proof solutions when sourcing raw ingredients from risk countries of origin, packaging materials and in its range of products.
The performance of the Uelzena Group is fundamentally defined by its dedication and ability – and in times like these, the flexibility of our employees. 2021 showed once again that responsible cooperation is part of our strengths. According to the motto “Giving our best every day”, we would like to celebrate the 70-year anniversary of Uelzena eG this year with all the Group’s employees, their families and our milk producers, appreciating the positive progress towards the company's focus that has been made collaboratively, even in challenging times.
Our responsibility to our milk producers and our passion for producing sustainably good dairy products and foods are our main drivers. Current global political events and advancing climate change make it abundantly clear that we bear responsibility as a food producer to resolutely pursue this sustainable course into the future. And to do this, we give our best every day!
Chairman of the Board of Uelzena eG