Dr. Schär sustainability report

Source: Dr. Schär

Gluten-free specialist Dr. Schär has unveiled its inaugural sustainability report, which it says reaffirms its commitment to making special nutrition inclusive and sustainable.

Entitled Seeding A Better World, the 80-page report highlights the projects and results achieved during the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years of the family-run European food manufacturer, which produces the Schär gluten-free bakery range among other brands.

Dr. Schär notes that the structure of its report is aligned with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, with quantitative and qualitative data on sustainability topics and impacts assigned under four strategic pillars. These including promoting biodiversity and sustainable farming, minimising the impact of packaging, reducing CO2 emissions, and promoting diversity and inclusion.

“Improving the lives of people with special nutritional needs is the mission Dr. Schär has had since it was founded more than 100 years ago,“ commented Dr. Schär CEO Hannes Berger, who was promoted to the leadership role at the start of this year after nearly 20 years with the company.

Dr. Schär CEO Hannes Berger 2100x1400

Source: Dr. Schär

Dr. Schär CEO Hannes Berger

Berger said this was a broad concept that encompasses not only the provision of nutritional solutions for those in need, but also the topics of quality, taste and conviviality around the table. “This is why the company takes care of their products from field to fork, selecting the best raw ingredients, promoting an ‘accompanied’ supply chain, innovating in terms of farming techniques and designing sustainable packaging without compromising product quality.”

Sustainability highlights from the two years at Dr. Schär included the development of projects for the conservation of biodiversity through the recovery of minor crops – Field100 conducted in collaboration with Laimburg Research Center being a “concrete example”. Additionally, innovative agricultural projects were also launched, mainly focused on water saving (20% less than traditional practices) and the use of alternative fertilisers (15% better yield and plant development).

The company noted the gluten-free cereals that form the basis of its products are farmed in areas where the crops grow naturally, close to the milling areas, to reduce the environmental impact of transport. It also sources raw ingredients such as palm oil and cocoa responsibly, with the target of a 100% deforestation-free supply chain in the next years.

More than a fifth of Dr. Schär packaging across its product range is now made using recyclable materials, marking a 5.2% increase in 2022. The supplier stated an ambitious goal of reducing plastic in its packaging by 25% by the end of next year.

Energy saving measures, meanwhile, are helping reduce its carbon footprint with the use of green electricity at its Italy sites saving almost 7,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2022 – four photovoltaic plants are planned for Germany, Italy and Austria within the next year.

The last pillar had the company declaring it was a firm believer in gender equality, evidenced by 37% of mangers being women, while its diversity was expressed explicitly in numbers: 1,539 employees from 55 different countries, 43% women and 57% men, and 91% with permanent contracts. Professional development was also supported with over 200 hours of training at the Dr. Schär Academy provided to each individual over the two-year review period. The full sustainability report can be viewed here.

Dr. Schär operates 18 production and distribution sites in 11 countries across Europe. Last year it acquired Glasgow-based, free-from bakery supplier GDR Food Technology, aimed at boosting the presence of the gluten-free brand in the UK’s fresh food market. In an exclusive interview with British Baker earlier this year, UK MD Bradley Grimshaw revealed the venture also allowed the company to develop products more in tune with the needs of UK consumers.