Our stakeholders

With its mission ‘For the Future of Farming’ ForFarmers seeks to contribute to the continuity of the farming business, a healthy agricultural sector and a sustainable society. On behalf of all our internal and external stakeholders – including customers, investors and employees – we strive to improve both the environment and society.

Change layout to 2 columns

Stakeholders’ views are important in determining our strategy

The views of our stakeholders are an important factor for us in determining our strategy. As part of our normal business operations we maintain a constant dialogue with stakeholders, in the course of which we identify whether any topics require more attention – or less. In addition we recognise that advances in knowledge, trends and regulations also impact the topics that are important to stakeholders in relation to the agricultural sector in general and our role in it in particular. We conduct a structured survey among our stakeholders and subsequently record these topics in a materiality matrix.

Materiality matrix updated in 2019 based on stakeholder dialogue

In 2019 we updated and considerably expanded the materiality analysis of 2017. To this end almost 400 (2017: almost 100) internal and external stakeholders were questioned about what they consider important when it comes to our activities and role in society. The process involved both a quantitative questionnaire and qualitative, in-depth interviews and round-table sessions. Customers and members of the FromFarmers cooperative, suppliers, processing companies, retailers, NGOs and other external stakeholders all made an important contribution. Employees of all countries and all departments also participated in the study, which focused on the following topics:

 
  • What are the most important topics in society right now;

  • How do our stakeholders feel about certain sustainability dilemmas;

  • What do our stakeholders expect from ForFarmers in external communications about the agricultural sector;

  • What do stakeholders think of the sustainability performance of ForFarmers and the sector as a whole.

 

Change layout to 1 column

Change layout to 2 columns

The results of this survey among our key external and internal stakeholders were used to update the materiality matrix. The top right of the matrix shows the material topics that are most important to us and to our stakeholders. The number of topics has been significantly reduced from 47 to 23, compared to our survey in 2017. The study highlighted a number of core topics which will be taken into account in setting the strategy for 2020-2025. This strategy will be announced on 12 May 2020. The key findings of the study were:

 
  • The topics included in the current sustainability approach are still seen as very relevant by the stakeholders: sustainable purchasing of raw materials, food and feed safety, health and safety of employees, and animal health and welfare;

  • Improving the carbon footprint is deemed more important than regional/local purchasing;

  • Stakeholders indicated that a number of topics have become more important, i.e. optimising the use of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate, increasing the use of raw materials which are unsuitable for human consumption such as residual flows, fair distribution of margins in the chain and transparency/traceability in the chain;

  • Because the future of the agricultural sector is increasingly a topic in the public debate, our stakeholders indicated that they would like the animal feed industry to communicate more proactively with consumers and the general public;

  • Stakeholders rate our current performance in terms of sustainability as average to above-average compared to the median for the animal feed industry as a whole.

 

In the materiality matrix 10 of the 23 potential material topics were deemed to be most material. These are linked to the Horizon 2020 strategy, the sustainability approach and our key risks. In the chapters ‘The value of and for our employees’, ‘Our contribution to a sustainable livestock industry' and ‘Our contribution with feed to food’ we explain what we wish to achieve with these 10 most material topics and how we performed in 2019:

Change layout to 1 column

 

Change layout to 2 columns

The stakeholder survey mainly highlighted topics related to our business activities. During regular meetings with investors a number of topics were discussed frequently. It is increasingly important to investors that companies are transparent about non-financial aspects such as the environment, corporate social responsibility and governance. This is referred to as ESG (Environmental Social Governance). In 2019 the agricultural sector in the Netherlands and Germany in particular came under increasing pressure because of its impact on the environment and nature. The uncertainty for the sector as to future measures and regulations to reduce nitrogen deposition is a point of concern for investors. Other recurring topics were the risk control measures with respect to purchasing, the climate impact on the business activities and growth opportunities for the sector in Europe. The meetings gave us a clear impression of the topics which Investors found to be material.

 

In 2019 Dutch media in particular devoted significant attention to developments in the agricultural sector. As of the third quarter of 2019, the nitrogen debate in the Netherlands was trending topic. In addition, the following topics were regularly addressed in the media in the Netherlands and also in the other countries in which we are active: sustainability initiatives in and by the sector, animal welfare, farmers’ protests, increasing interest in veganism and meat replacers, circular agriculture, and soy in relation to the Amazon.

ForFarmers was specifically mentioned in the press with its financial results, the impact of the unfavourable purchasing position on the results in the first half-year of 2019, the announcement of the efficiency plans, the progress of the share buy-back programme, the announced change of CFO, nomination of a new member of the Supervisory Board, the farmers’ protest and the relation with Yvon Jaspers.

For more information about the process of creating the materiality analysis, including the dialogue with our stakeholders, please refer to the ‘Sustainability Appendix’ of the Annual Report.

Change layout to 1 column