Our farmers provide the valuable raw material milk from which our products are made in the factories. In 2022, they once again made an important contribution to supplying millions of people with high-quality food - even though, like everyone else, they were faced with price increases and availability issues. At the same time, they once again faced up to the growing demands of politics and society last year and championed modern, more sustainable agriculture with great deal of individual responsibility and commitment. At DMK, we want to tackle the challenges arising from this transformation together with the farmers - with the right strategy and innovative measures that will benefit the entire dairy industry. To ensure the success of this approach, we again tackled the task with vigor last year and, despite everything, did not allow ourselves to be diverted from our path. What's more, we have used the current crises as an opportunity to step up our game once again. Join us in taking a look at our work in the area of sustainability in 2022.
Sustainability is not a "nice to have" - for us it is a mission and a responsibility
A clear plan for the future
The world around us is changing dramatically. This was extremely evident in 2022. In addition to the acute challenges resulting from the war in Ukraine (read more in the chapter on ”Our DMK“ ), the long-term challenges of the future became clearer than ever. Climate protection, animal welfare and biodiversity are of concern to politicians, society and, of course, DMK. Sustainability is and remains the order of the day. And this requires a holistic approach that will be effective on the farms, in the plants and along the entire supply chain. Achieving sustainability is therefore an indispensable part of the DMK Group’s corporate strategy. Four fields of action were defined as part of the "Vision 2030" to help us put in place suitable measures and gradually move closer to our goals. We pursued this vision further in 2022. Ongoing research and development projects were systematically continued and gave us a decisive advantage in important areas such as energy and water management. And of course we also benefited from the restructuring of the DMK Group in recent years. It has given us the right flexibility and impact in our efforts to reconcile security of our supply of food to people with our long-term sustainability goals. At the same time, our "TIGER - Continuous Improvement" program provides important momentum for the continuous improvement which we incorporate into our daily work. In conjunction with new innovative projects for the farming community, our vision of a future-oriented dairy industry is gradually taking shape.
The goals of our sustainability strategy 2030
- Climate protection
In a first step, we want to reduce our emissions (scope 1-3) by a further 20% by 2030. Among other things, this will involve cutting greenhouse gas emissions by around 80% in dairy operations and energy consumption by around 6 million kWh in the factories. The Milkmaster program also rewards the dairy farms’ work in reducing their own carbon footprint. Find out more >
- Animal Welfare
Around 96% of farms use loose housing, where animals can move freely. In addition, they use feed that is not only good for the animals, but also has an impact on the carbon footprint. Almost 84% of all farms produce more than half of the feed components themselves or procure them regionally. More than 14% actually opt exclusively for feed that is produced in-house or procured regionally. Find out more >
We contribute to the preservation of biodiversity, on the farms and at DMK sites. The Milkmaster program contains clear recommendations on protecting biodiversity, such as the use of regional feedstuffs, the use of pasture farming, and the provision of unused grassland as refuges for animals and plants. Find out more >
Sustainable commitment also has to benefit people. That's why we develop our employees in the offices and factories, as well as our farms, with tailored programs and ensure compliance with human rights and fair working conditions along the entire supply chain. Find out more >
Find out more in our Responsibility brochure.
We set ourselves high goals
For the DMK Group, however, declarations of intent are not enough. We have set ourselves clear targets that will make sustainable changes in the company demonstrable. By 2030, we want to cut emissions by a further 20 percent along the entire value chain, especially on the farms. But we also want to improve our use of important resources such as energy, water, packaging and other raw materials.
Our sustainability strategy is one component that will help us achieve these goals. In 2022, a new one was added: DMK's entry into the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi). The non-profit organization already supports more than 4,000 companies around the world in testing and validating relevant and science-based sustainability targets. This ensures that the targets set are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and provide a clear roadmap for the future. Joining is therefore not simply a reaffirmation of the sustainability strategy - it is an official commitment to make an active contribution to limiting global warming and to implement measures or find solutions that can ultimately set new standards for the entire dairy industry.
We strengthen people and nature
Agriculture without emissions
Is that even possible? According to the latest research, agriculture is responsible for around 7.4% the greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. Around 80% of the DMK Group’s CO2 emissions come from the farms. The dairy farms are therefore our most important partners in implementing the sustainability strategy. Together with them, we are testing new concepts that will enable a lasting and sustainable reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.
Instruments such as the Milkmaster Programm, which rewards modern and sustainable agriculture with bonus payments, or the voluntary “Agrar-Klimacheck” are designed to help farmers gain important insights into their own operations and take possible steps to improve animal welfare, climate protection, sustainable feed procurement and the housing system on the farm. Particular potential for optimization comes from animal husbandry itself. Factors such as good animal health and maintaining the cattle’s yield for as long as possible make a significant contribution to climate protection. However, the use of regional and GMO-free feed, which accounts for 95% of the practice on our farms, also supports climate and environmental protection. By 2022, for example, we had already succeeded in reducing emissions to a low level for the sector of 1.09 kg of CO2 per kg of milk.
This proves that the measures taken so far are already having an effect. Nevertheless, we believe still more can be done, and we started developing new and innovative programs in 2022.
A project like no other
In addition to the measures already in place and as a logical step toward the future, a special project was launched in 2022: in cooperation with three dairy farms, DMK is testing new possibilities for drastically reducing greenhouse gases in agriculture with Net Zero Farms.. The aim is to gain valuable insights by 2025, which in turn will serve as the foundation for practical and transferable concepts for all DMK farms and subsequently for a holistic change in the dairy industry.
In addition, DMK set up an in-house "Climate Think Tank" to support the project with advice. This loose association of experts from various institutes and research facilities has been meeting regularly since its foundation to discuss the latest findings from the farms and to develop new solutions as required. They coordinate closely with the pilot farms, which in turn apply these concepts and at the same time can contribute their own know-how. This creates close integration between theory and practice, which will have an important influence on the success of the project.
In the factories
We improve every day
Using energy efficiently
On the way to a more sustainable future, emission levels are an important, qualifiable indicator of our sustainability strategy’s success. However, emissions do not arise solely on the farms. The factories where the raw milk is processed also contribute. That is why DMK is also making a large number of adjustments there, with the aim of achieving reductions of around 42,000 tons of CO2 in in the plants by 2030. To this end, upgrades and retrofitting were carried out at many sites, which were then certified accordingly. In addition, the sites are using renewable energies to cover at least part of their energy needs and to reduce DMK's carbon footprint.
Added to this is highly efficient energy management, which meticulously regulates consumption. And this is an essential measure. The electricity market is inherently subject to fluctuations in both price and supply, posing challenges for the entire economy. This situation was made much worse in 2022 by the war in Ukraine. We therefore scrutinized energy management even more closely.
At the same time, DMK continued to trial innovative solutions for regulating electricity consumption and energy recovery. Once again, the "SynErgie" sub-project of the Kopernikus projects sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research provided special insights. These were incorporated into DMK's energy management in 2022 and were also made available to other companies via the VDI recommendation on action. In 2022, as in previous years, we were thus able to reduce our consumption of electricity by around 25 million kWh across all sites and continue on our planned course despite turbulence on the energy market.