Corporate social responsibility As a cooperative and a group, Cosun is responsible for everything that happens within the business groups. How safe are working conditions? How do we use the raw materials, energy and water? And we are equally responsible for how our raw materials are grown and for the inconvenience to local residents caused by our factories.

A business meets the needs of its customers and creates value for its stakeholders. The figure below shows what we did with the value Cosun created in 2015. We paid the members for the beet they supplied, we paid salaries to the employees and remitted taxes to the government.

We also invested some of the results in the further growth and development of Cosun.

Added value (in millions of euros) 2015   2014
Net turnover 1,948   2,115
Other revenue and stock movements 39   42
Payments to suppliers of raw materials -/- 981   -/- 1,055
Payments to other suppliers -/- 364   -/- 367
Added value created 642   735
Employees (salaries) 255   251
Members (beet payments and members’ bonus) 230   283
Financiers (interest) 6   4
Government (taxes) 8   27
Value created for stakeholders 499   565
Retained profit 46   79
Depreciation and amortisation 98   91
Value created for reinvestment 143   170

As well as creating value for our stakeholders, principally the members of the cooperative, we have identified four areas where we are able and willing to bring our influence to bear:
  • optimising cultivation in recognition of our responsibility to growers and the environment;
  • optimising production processes with a view to maximising the use of raw materials and conserving the environment;
  • investing in staff skills and a safe working environment;
  • respecting the interests of other stakeholders and being accountable to them.

Sustainable cultivation means realising the highest possible yield per hectare from the fewest inputs. New varieties and modern processing techniques are good for the soil and biodiversity. Soil conservation and biodiversity are important factors for the longer-term security of food supplies. We and our growers are therefore investing in the further improvement, optimisation and sustainability of cultivation. Cosun is an active participant in many initiatives, such as the SAI platform for sustainable agriculture, the Skylark Foundation for sustainable arable farming and the Beet Cultivation and Biodiversity project. The agricultural services and agronomists at our business groups help the growers and suppliers of our raw materials improve their crops. Programmes such as Unitip (Suiker Unie) and Cimone (Sensus) increase insight and transparency in the production chains.

Our factories need energy to process raw materials into foodstuffs and intermediate products. Energy consumption per tonne of production is a measure of the efficiency of our production processes: the lower the better. The key figure on page 9 of this report shows that we emit about 0.22 tonne of CO2 per tonne of production. In 2010, Cosun had set itself the goal of using 2% less energy per annum. Although we have not succeeded every year we are on track to reach our target of consuming 20% less energy by 2020. Further savings, however, require an ever larger investment to cut consumption by 2% per annum. The relatively low production volumes in 2015 (down 8%) made it more difficult to achieve the targeted saving of per tonne.

The food industry uses a lot of water to wash raw materials, to processes raw materials and to clean machinery, etc. Our vegetable raw materials also contain a lot of water, which we can re-use after it has been treated. The total volume of water we consume is directly related to the size and quality of the harvests we process.

We have therefore not set a target for water consumption in absolute terms. We used more groundwater per tonne of finished product in 2015 than in 2014, chiefly because of the variation in the crop and changes in the portfolio.

Cosun classifies its waste as separated or mixed. Separated waste is sorted before it is sent for disposal. The types of waste we sort are paper and cardboard, wood, stones, plastic and chemicals. What remains is mixed waste. For every thousand kilogrammes of product leaving our factories, there is about six kilograms of waste that cannot be processed and has to be disposed of. This figure was less in 2015 than in 2014, and roughly in line again with the figure for 2013. Cosun aims to minimise the volume of waste and to make the best possible use of residual materials.

Cosun cares about all its employees, both permanent and temporary. It offers every one of them a safe workplace and opportunities to develop themselves and their skills. Good working conditions are important for both the employees’ wellbeing and their productivity. A completely new code of conduct was introduced throughout the group in 2015: the Cosun Principles. Care for employees is one of the central themes; it highlights the importance of the workplace being socially and physically safe. A variety of activities will draw attention to this in 2016.

Safety at work remains a point of concern. The figures show that there were 24 lost-time accidents per 1,000 employees in 2015, in comparison with 26 in 2014. Cosun will take extra measures to reduce systematically the number of lost-time accidents. The number of incidents, near-accidents and unsafe situations will also be given higher priority: prevention is better than cure. Sickness absenteeism was virtually unchanged at 3.9%, well below the average for manufacturing companies (CBS, 2014: 4.8%).

In full time equivalents the number of employees at Cosun was slightly higher, rising from 3,799 in 2014 to 3,912 in 2015. Temporary employees are not included in these figures. The increase was due almost entirely to Aviko. Staff often enjoy a long career with us and accumulate a great deal of know-how and experience. It is important that they continue to develop their know-how and skills so that they remain employable. We therefore invest in our people by offering them education and training. The average number of training days in 2015 was three per employee.

The Sugars & Food Platform was set up in 2015. It is made up of three links in the sugar sector: the beet growers, the sugar industry and sugar processors in the Netherlands. Representing their common responsibilities, they seek contact with civil society organisations, the media and consumers to open up a dialogue on sugar and its use in food. The relationship between food and health has been the subject of scientific research, media interest and countless stories. It is not disputed that consuming more calories than are expended leads to overweight. But there are differences of opinion on the causes and the measures to tackle the problem. The platform wants to contribute to a balanced understanding of sugar and its role in food, based on factually correct information on the production and consumption of sugars.

More and more companies are selecting their suppliers on the basis of their working conditions and social policies. Cosun’s major international customers also set exacting standards. And they want to be reassured that the Cosun business groups can meet them. To this end, Sensus and SVZ are members of Sedex, and Aviko is a member of the RSPO (the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). They are audited by these organisations and the findings can be read by customers and others stakeholders.

Cosun has also introduced the Cosun Principles for directors, managers and staff. They describe how we should conduct ourselves and what we can be held accountable for, not only to each other but also to our customers, business associates and the society of which we are a part. The Cosun Principles are available on our website at – About Cosun – Corporate Governance.

More information on the measures we take and their results can be found in our CSR Report for 2015 on this website. Annual reports from previous years are also available from this website.