Animal welfare has the highest priority when it comes to our reputation as a manufacturer of meat and meat products. In Switzerland, where we slaughter and butcher our own meat, the Bell Food Group sold a high proportion of meat certified to be from particularly animal-friendly farms. In total, around 49 percent of the animals slaughtered in Switzerland came from particularly animal-friendly farms. In Switzerland, this is mainly due to widespread acceptance across the entire value chain and the high purchasing power of the people in the country.
Consumers outside Switzerland are also becoming more sensitive about animal welfare on farms. Hubers Landhendl is the biggest provider of organic chicken in Austria, and Süddeutsche Truthahn AG is the leader in the market for organic turkey in Germany. In the reporting year, chicken produced outside of Switzerland was certified to the Swiss PAS programme (particularly animal-friendly stabling systems) for the first time. At present, most of the fresh poultry imported into Switzerland comes from companies in Slovenia, Austria and Germany that meet the requirements of the Swiss laws on animal welfare and sometimes also the PAS requirements. Additional farms will be upgraded to meet the PAS requirements by the end of 2018. All farms are regularly audited by internal and external auditing companies. In Germany, Bell markets products that are certified by the German Animal Welfare Association. As a member of the advisory board on labels of the German Animal Welfare Association, Bell Germany is committed to improved animal welfare. For example, a conscious decision was taken to use organic beef for the beef jerky product group in Germany, France, Benelux and Switzerland.
In the long term, i.e. by 2023, we aim to have a minimum animal welfare standard for all our products. In our Swiss poultry production facilities, these standards are already met with the particularly animal-friendly stabling system (PAS). Bell is also committed to increasing the number of free-range farms. In addition, production facilities will be upgraded with state-of-the-art technologies and optimised with regard to energy consumption. Since 2013, Bell has already upgraded more than 20 facilities to free-range farms.
Its Swiss poultry is only fed sustainably grown soya certified to be free of GMOs. The soya fed to the organic chickens comes from Europe, and only soya from the programmes of the Danube Soya Association is fed to the free-range chickens. Bell has also been a member of the Soy Network Switzerland since 2017. This network promotes the sustainable production of soya in accordance with the Basel criteria. Both Danube Soya and the Soy Network Switzerland produce top-quality, sustainably grown and GMO-free soya as a sustainable alternative to the conventional soya grown in South America.
The dual-purpose poultry project was continued in 2017. With this project, roosters and hens of the same chicken breed are used to produce organic meat as well as organic eggs – the roosters as broilers and the hens as laying hens.
We use regional and sustainably grown ingredients for our convenience products. We prefer buying the raw materials and ingredients we use at Hilcona in Schaan from regional suppliers. Most of our vegetables and potatoes are grown under contract in accordance with defined sustainability criteria. The minimum standard is certification of the farmers by Suisse Garantie. Most of our contracting partners are certified to SwissGAP. In the long term, we aim to introduce SwissGAP certification as the minimum standard for our contract farmers. At present, 99 percent of our fruit and vegetables are certified to at least GlobalGAP. We also offer a wide range of organic products. The raw materials and ingredients used for these products are all sourced from controlled organic cultivation and comply at least with the EU’s organic ordinance.
To enable us to guarantee the quality of our raw materials at all times, we provide our contract farmers with advice and support. For example, we provide the farmers with special machines for the planting of potatoes, baby carrots and spinach. We also determine the best time to harvest every field and use the shortest routes to transport the raw materials to our facility to guarantee the best possible alignment with our production processes.
We continue to promote sustainable fishing. 99 percent of Bell Seafood’s products meet the WWF criteria for sustainable fishing.
The Bell Food Group has been a member of the WWF Seafood Group since 2010. This means that we have undertaken not to market any endangered species, to gradually delist seafood from non-sustainable origins and to continuously expand our proportion of recommended labels. Together with the WWF, we are involved in a yellow fin tuna project in the Philippines. The aim of the project is to protect stocks, establish environmentally-friendly fishing practices and prepare fisheries for MSC certification.
Animal-friendly stunning and slaughtering processes are tremendously important to Bell as a leading manufacturer of meat and meat products. To guarantee the welfare of the animals, we strive to apply the highest standards that are practical. All slaughtering facilities of Bell Switzerland are audited by Swiss Animal Protection STS every year. We then prepare measures based on the audit results to improve the protection of the animals and implement the steps that are needed. Our slaughtering facilities in Austria and Germany are also regularly audited by STS.
Quite rightly, the rise in antibiotic resistance as a result of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in human medicine and livestock farming is a topic of heated debate in many places. In the meantime, many countries have forbidden the use of antibiotics as a growth promoter in livestock farming. Under Swiss legislation, for example, antibiotics may only be used to treat sick animals. Bell supports the principle of the sensible use of antibiotics to promote animal health. In this regard, we promote the voluntary Plus-Health programmes used in pig farming and fattening by SuisSano and qualiporc and support the Colorispotop project to reduce the use of antibiotics in the fattening of calves, among others.
Minimum standards have been defined for all critical raw materials. These include raw materials such as eggs, palm oil, soya used for processing and vegetables. With these standards, we can ensure compliance with social and environmental criteria. Progress has already been made in finding substitutes for palm oil and other vegetable oils and fats. In Switzerland, we only use 100 percent sustainable palm oil from RSPO-certified sources. We have also made progress with the procurement of eggs: in Switzerland, we now only use sustainably produced eggs.
The responsible use of packaging resources is another important topic. By 2023, the packaging materials used by the Bell Food Group should be reduced by 2,500 tonnes or replaced by environmentally-friendly alternatives. We are on track with the reduction or replacement of packaging materials, and since 2013 the Group as a whole has already reduced its packaging materials by 260 tonnes. With these measures, Bell will save resources as well as energy in its manufacturing, transport and disposal processes and reduce the overall volume of waste.
In May 2017, Hilcona replaced the three-part tin-plated cans used for sterilised tinned goods by two-part cans, making it possible to reduce the weight by 5.5 percent per can. This reduced the CO2 emitted by the production of the cans by 11 percent.
The Bell Food Group is adjusting its corporate structure to the growth experienced in the last few years and is strengthening its Group Executive Board. The meat and convenience specialist is also expanding its fresh convenience production capacity for the Ge...