Closely connected to the region
The responsibility for the community and local region has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. The strategy to increase the raw materials sourced from the region and to support the local economy around the sites ensures the Uelzena Group remains on the right course. A core goal that the company consistently implemented this year as well is to support the regions around the sites and develop closer ties.
.Increasing regional value creation
The Uelzena Group plays an important role in the economic and social development of the regions in which it is based: Firstly, as a reliable employer, trainer, and sponsor of the region, and also by purchasing raw materials and services from the region. In the uncertain conditions of the pandemic, this principle of sustainable raw material sourcing has gained increasing significance. In 2020, local business partners and suppliers located within a radius of 50 kilometres of its sites provided 20 percent of the purchased services, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year. Uelzena, as a cooperative company, has a special focus on regional milk procurement. For instance, in the reporting year, 99 percent of the total volume of raw milk purchased was sourced from an area within 150 kilometres of the company locations. The added value created therefore remains almost entirely within the region.
Although the Uelzena Group was also financially affected by the Covid-19 crisis, promoting the prospects of young people remained important, with at least half of all donations benefiting children and youth projects. By way of preference, campaigns in which employees volunteer for a cause on their own initiative and those which promote closer ties with the region are supported. At Christmas, for example, Uelzena sites donated largely to local youth fire brigades. The intention of contributing to the attractiveness of the region by sponsoring events and festivities could not be realised in 2020 due to the pandemic. Instead, Uelzena gave generously to associations to help them continue to operate. In addition to financial resources, donations in kind such as prizes for an online campaign to promote exercise during lockdown “Alle(in) Gemeinsam” (Together while apart), which was started by Uelzen sports club were provided.
„Volunteer work is unpaid, but such work is priceless. My employer, Uelzena, not only sponsors me to do this, they also value the work I do, which makes me extremely grateful.“
Daniela Pazdziora, Laboratory employee and parent representative at the schools Grundschule Suderburg and KGS Bad Bevensen
Volunteer work strengthens team spirit and makes living in the local regions more attractive. As part of regional responsibility, Uelzena therefore supports organisations and facilities with which the employees are actively involved. In the past year, well over half of the sponsoring budget was used to achieve the objective.
Compliance – guidelines for acceptable conduct
Compliance refers to both adherence to laws and regulations and conduct that is consistent with internal company guidelines. At Uelzena, a compliance management system helps ensure that non-compliance incidents are identified in good time to head off any damage to the group. Uelzena's code of conduct is at the core of this management system and describes principles of conduct to which the company is committed. For Uelzena’s employees, the code of conduct serves as a guide to how to behave in the course of their daily work. The company also expects their suppliers, service providers, and other business partners to act according to a comparable code of conduct. There are no non-compliance incidents to report for the reporting year. Uelzena Group started revising the code of conduct in 2020 to meet growing requirements, for instance in food safety.
More on the topic: Ethically responsible and sustainable action by the Uelzena Group
.Outlook for 2021
The Uelzena Group will continue to focus on increasing regional added value, supporting employees in their voluntary activities, promoting young people and their prospects, and making sustained efforts to boost the attractiveness of the regions in which their sites are located. In 2021, it will also finalise the code of conduct to replace the previous version published in 2016.
Sustainability context: Why we need a sustainable regional strategy
The four production sites of the Uelzena Group in Uelzen, Ratzeburg, Warmsen and Bismark are all located in the north of Germany. These are rural areas where agriculture plays a central role. However, industry and trade are under-represented and the economic structure is rather weak. This makes the significance of industrial companies such as Uelzena and its subsidiaries even more important. These companies are key employers, buyers of raw materials, clients for local service providers and taxpayers.
The Uelzena Group, as a large industrial enterprise in a structurally weak, rural region is well aware of its responsibility. Therefore, it procures its most important agricultural raw material, namely milk, predominantly from the region, from farmers located close to its sites. When awarding contracts to service providers, local providers are preferred. Moreover, the Uelzena Group also promotes charitable projects in which its employees are involved.
Ethical and compliance behaviour and conduct of companies takes on an even great significance at a regional level as sustainable business also means dealing responsibly with employees, society and the environment. The increasing awareness of society for compliant and ethical/moral conduct presents companies with new challenges. Uelzena is very conscious of its responsibility, promoting trust with values-based management among its employees, respective regions and other stakeholders in the long term.
The regional procurement of agricultural raw materials, doing business with local service providers and the consideration of local communities are relevant sustainability topics. This is of particular interest for the members, the regional suppliers and service providers of the Uelzena Group and for local politicians and authorities. See also: Our stakeholders.
The compliant and ethical/moral conduct of the Uelzena Group towards its workforce, society and the environment is a topic on the company’s sustainability agenda. By incorporating the Uelzena Group code of conduct as part of their internal compliance management system, the company acknowledges its own responsibility in a social and economic context.
Our sustainable strategy for the regions – overview on targets and measures
- The Uelzena Group prefers local service providers and suppliers – thus promoting milk production, jobs and the businesses in the regions.
- Young people and their prospects are supported within the regions so that more of them will decide to stay in their home region – and may even choose a career in Uelzen, Warmsen, Ratzeburg or Bismark.
- The company also supports its employees’ commitment to voluntary work with the aim of contributing to the preservation or development of diverse club activities in the regions.
- Compliance with applicable legislation, employee and human rights, cartel and anti-corruption directives and adherence to voluntary or statutory social and environmental standards is a given at Uelzena Group and forms the basis for sustainable development in the regions.
Higher regional added value
Agricultural raw materials and semi-finished goods: The Uelzena Group guarantees its regional member dairies that it will buy their milk raw materials including cream, concentrates and raw milk and that it will pay a competitive milk price. A very large share of these dairy raw materials comes from regional sources, from the Northern German Federal States Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt. Dairy raw materials such as unprocessed milk and cream are considered to be regional when they come from within a 150 kilometre radius around the production sites. In this way, Uelzena eG and its subsidiaries are supporting local farmers, providing income in rural areas and strengthening agricultural added value activities in our milk collecting regions. Non-dairy raw materials and semi-finished goods are considered to be regional when they come from within Germany. For example, sugar is procured from German refineries that exclusively process German sugar beets.
Services: The Uelzena Group intentionally prefers - at the same price-performance ratio – regional suppliers and service providers that are located within a radius of a maximum of 50 kilometres around each of its sites. This also includes craft businesses and forwarding companies. In doing so, businesses and jobs from the regions are supported.
Support for young people
The Uelzena eG and its subsidiaries support promising projects from youth work, schools and their own initiatives. They support schools as educational sponsors and participate in career finding activities in cooperation with schools and regional businesses.
Higher regional quality of life
The Uelzena Group welcomes and encourages voluntary work from its employees, when it is a regular and unpaid activity for a public-interest institution. A varied range of sports clubs and other social and cultural facilities in the regions contribute to a better quality of life so that these regions are now becoming once again more attractive to young people. If possible, we offer our employees flexible working hours upon request and as long as they are feasible for our company. In addition, employees can apply for financial support for the non-profit organizations they work for.
Ethically responsible and sustainable action
The Uelzena Group has drawn up a code of conduct (see download box) that forms the foundation of the company’s common rules and regulations, principles and values, thereby committing it and its employees to act with integrity and in a sustainable manner. They can easily report breaches to the company’s compliance officer using a compliance management system (CMS).