A Finnish dairy company is becoming a model company: the profits belong directly to the dairy farmers instead of large investors, the cows are fed only natural feed and climate-neutral corporate management is part of everyday life.
Valio, a dairy company from Finland, is considered one of the most innovative and sustainable companies in the world. For the 7th time in a row, customers awarded the Finnish milk producer the “Sustainable Brand Index” as the most sustainable brand.
The Sustainable Brand Index is the largest sustainability study in Europe. Based on more than 60,000 consumer ratings, 1,400 brands from 34 countries are ranked.
But regardless of ranking, what exactly makes Valio so special?
Valio belongs to all its farmers
Unlike many other milk producers in Europe, Valio has a special ownership structure. Valio is a so-called “farmer-owned business” and therefore belongs to all participating farms. Founded in 1905 by an association of 17 dairies, the company developed into a large association of farmers from all over the country in its early years.
Today, Valio belongs to more than 4,300 dairies. All profits are returned directly to the farmers through regional dairy cooperatives. This means that no large corporation makes a profit here, but directly the local dairy farmers.
How the most sustainable and cleanest milk in Europe is produced
Valio claims to produce the “cleanest” milk in Europe. And indeed, the cows are not fed with imported and environmentally harmful soy, but exclusively with natural grass. Antibiotics are also used only in absolutely urgent cases, unlike in other countries.
In addition, Finnish production does not distinguish between cows used for milk production and those used for meat production. 80% of beef produced in Finland ends up coming from former dairy cows. When both milk and meat are sourced from the same animal, emissions per portion of milk or beef are smaller.
Ambitious climate targets: Valio wants to reduce carbon-footprint to Zero by 2035
The company is not only a “big player” in the sustainability business in Finland, but also has branches in Russia, Sweden, the Baltic States, the USA and China. Valio accounts for a full 30% of all food exports in Finland.
But the company is not only thinking about economic growth, it is also setting itself ambitious climate targets. By 2035, Valio wants to reduce its carbon footprint to zero. The company has already made a start by using recycled plastic for its packaging and by working with scientists to align its climate targets with those of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Annikka Hurme, CEO of Valio adds, “The extraordinary situation caused by the coronavirus last year has shown us that food safety and sustainability have never been more important. Our mission is to continue our work so that people can count on us in all situations. Even when it comes to our climate.”