Nordzucker is one of Europe's largest sugar manufacturers, with sugar beet extraction and processing activities dating back to 1838. It now operates 18 production facilities across its home market Germany as well as Denmark, Finland, Lithuania and others, with its products mostly supplied to the food and retail industries. Nordzucker also has sales offices in Ireland, Iceland, Lithuania, Greece, Norway and Estonia.
Nordzucker ranks 28th compared to its peers in the agricultural products and commodities segment. It performs better than its segment peers in the nutrition measurement area due to its food safety commitment. Unlike many of its peers, the company confirms that 100 percent of its locations are certified to the independent Foundation for Food Safety Certification’s production safety standard (FSSC 22000). Where the company has most opportunity for improvement is in the governance and strategy and the social inclusion measurement areas. Here, the company is lagging behind most of its peers. The company can benefit from increasing stakeholder engagement to help set its sustainable development strategy, therefore improving its targets and disclosure in all measurement areas.
Nordzucker confirms that 100% of its locations are certified to the independent Foundation for Food Safety Certification’s production safety standard (FSSC 22000), which is benchmarked by the GFSI.
Health and safety of vulnerable groups
Nordzucker recognises the specific health and safety risks to vulnerable groups and requires that its suppliers conduct risk assessments to identify any hazardous work conditions for young workers.
Sustainable development strategy
While Nordzucker has set time-bound targets covering topics within the benchmark ’s three dimensions of environment, nutrition and social inclusion, it has an opportunity to disclose a sustainable development strategy and how it identifies and prioritises the topics where it has the most impact.
Governance and accountability for sustainable development
While responsibility for Nordzucker’s sustainable development strategy lies with its Sustainability Forum members, the company has an opportunity to strengthen accountability by assigning this responsibility to its highest governance body.
While Nordzucker provides some evidence of engagement with stakeholders, including customers and suppliers, it is unclear what the outcomes of these engagements are. The company’s materiality assessment was written in consultation with the executive board, and no other stakeholder outcome seems to be incorporated into the company’s strategy and operations.
Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions
Nordzucker has set a GHG emissions reduction target, stating that it will reduce emissions by 25 per cent by 2030. It also states in its annual report that ‘we are aiming to end our use of coal by no later than 2030 and to achieve carbon-neutral production as soon as possible, in compliance with the national requirements at our sites, at the latest by 2050’. The company discloses that it has reduced its GHG emissions over the past three years but does not disclose the amount. Nordzucker is in the process of calculating a baseline and setting a scope 3 emissions reduction target.
Soil health and agrobiodiversity, and fertiliser and pesticide use
Nordzucker shares Grower Guidelines with farmers, which is accessible through its internal portal. The company has an opportunity to strengthen its commitment by setting targets to increase the percentage of production from sustainable practices that improve soil health and agrobiodiversity and reporting progress against the targets.
Nordzucker discloses its total water consumption over the past ten+ years. The company also states that it performs water-risk assessments using WRI and WWF water-risk tools for all its beet and cane sugar growing areas, but this information cannot be found publicly disclosed online. It is yet to set a target to reduce its water withdrawals across its operations.
Plastic use and packaging waste
Nordzucker set two new targets around sustainable packaging in 2021, one of them being that all plastic packaging will be fully recyclable by no later than 2025. The company is yet to report progress against this target, and it did not set any in prior years.
Availability of healthy foods
Nordzucker has a sugar and nutrition policy, but it does not address improvements in the nutritional quality of products. The company does not disclose a commitment or activities to increase the availability of healthy and nutritious foods.
Accessibility and affordability of healthy foods
Nordzucker does not disclose a commitment to address food insecurity by improving the accessibility and affordability of healthy and nutritious foods.
Nordzucker reports providing fresh fruit to all employees daily. The company has an opportunity to further develop its workforce nutrition programme to ensure the provision of nutrition education and nutrition-focused health checks.
Nordzucker prohibits child labour in its own operations and supply chain. It requires that suppliers verify the age of workers recruited. While the company discloses how it monitors for child labour in its supply chain, it can improve disclosure on how it monitors its own operations.
While Nordzucker commits to prohibiting forced labour in its own operations and supply chain, it has an opportunity to disclose a requirement that prohibits its suppliers from retaining workers’ personal documents and/or restricting workers’ freedom of movement.
The company does not disclose that it pays its workers a living wage or requires its suppliers to do the same. Neither has it set targets to do so in the future.
Farmer and fisher productivity and resilience
While Nordzucker states that beet growers in all countries have been certified to at least silver status on the basis of a Sustainable Agriculture Initiative farm sustainability assessment, it is unclear how the company has supported its farmers in achieving this certification.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators are part of the social inclusion measurement area. These indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Nordzucker is committed to respecting the human rights of its workers. It has a grievance mechanism that is available to both its workers and external individuals or communities. While the company expects its supply chain partners to commit to respecting the ILO fundamental human rights at work, it does not disclose a policy statement for its own operations committing it to respect the right to collective bargaining. Nordzucker discloses its process to identify and assess human rights risks in its operations and supply chain, which includes country risk assessments. However, the company can further improve disclosure on the ways in which it implements preventive or mitigating measures to address its salient human rights risks.
Nordzucker commits to respect the health and safety of its workers, expects suppliers to do the same and monitors their performance. While reporting on fatalities and work-related injuries, Nordzucker can improve by also disclosing the main types of work-related injuries, the number of high-consequence injuries and the number of hours worked. Nordzucker discloses the proportion of its direct operations covered by collective bargaining agreements but does not disclose how it supports its supply chain partners in doing the same. Aside from this, no policies or commitments related to providing and promoting decent work were found in the public domain.
Nordzucker is committed to protecting personal data but does not disclose the types of third parties that user information is shared with. The company publicly prohibits bribery and corruption and takes steps to identify and address bribery and corruption risks and incidents. However, the company does not disclose the process for identifying its bribery and corruption risks and impacts in specific locations or activities covering its own operations. Finally, the company does not demonstrate evidence around responsible tax and responsible lobbying and political engagement fundamentals.