The Board and the Members’ Council of Zuivelcoöperatie FrieslandCampina U.A. have formulated the scope for the development of the cooperative for the coming years: the cooperative vision 2025 The Merits of Milk.
Frans Keurentjes, Chairman of the Board. ‘With the formulated ambitions as a guideline, we will talk with the member dairy farmers about the required developments for the dairy farming sector and for FrieslandCampina. The success of our own dairy farms are based on individual entrepreneurship and expertise. Market-orientedness from the collective interest forms the basis of the success of both the cooperative and the company. Just as we work on the future of our own dairy farm, we work on sustainable development of FrieslandCampina together.’
FrieslandCampina wants to create more value for its members, now and for generations to come, through a distinguishing and progressive chain approach that is market-oriented, responds to the developments in society and actively makes a contribution to reaching objectives with respect to climate and environment. We want to be a dairy cooperative that the members are proud of and the milk and dairy products of which are appreciated both regionally and globally.
Respond to rapid changes
The reasons for the reformulation of the ambitions of the cooperative are the rapid changes in the market and in society, and the fast growth of the dairy farming sector in the Netherlands following de abolishment of the milk quota in 2015. Customers and consumers increasingly take aspects such as sustainability into consideration when deciding what products to buy. Frans Keurentjes: ‘We think that together redefining the basic principles of the cooperative will guide us into the right direction. We see the differences in the development of the businesses of the members grow. The individual interest does not always correspond with the collective interest. We will have to determine together how we can best serve the collective interest and at the same time offer sufficient space for variety and entrepreneurship.’
Central themes in the vision are “Value for us”, “Care for animals and nature” and “Valuable within and for society”.
“Value for us”
The theme “Value for us” particularly includes the discussion whether the cooperative should be supply-driven or market-driven. We aim at optimum valorisation of the milk for the members’ collective. The emphasis will be laid on dairy products that are distinguishing for customers and consumers and therefore offer added value. Keurentjes: ‘As Board we are of the opinion that the opportunities in the market should be leading. We are able to excel in areas such as quality and sustainability in the Netherlands, based on our expertise, knowledge and experience.’
FrieslandCampina will, together with the member-dairy farmers and other parties, try to see if new revenue models can be developed, for instance with respect to the production of sustainable energy. The dairy farming sector traditionally already makes ample use of circular techniques, e.g. by reusing basic materials in an as high-grade as possible manner so as to reduce the waste streams. Circular thinking and acting in the dairy chain offers interesting perspectives. Working together with sectors other than the dairy farming sector can create possibilities for new joint ventures and revenue models.
“Care for animals and nature”
The Board of FrieslandCampina is of the opinion that it is important to keep taking responsibility and to remain in charge of further increasing the sustainability in the sector ourselves. This in order to prevent third parties, such as various authorities and politics, from enforcing a more sustainable dairy chain by issuing rules without involving the dairy farmers in this. Keurentjes: ‘Sustainable development is not optional any longer. Sensible production with respect for animals and nature is a prerequisite for keeping our milk appealing to customers and consumers and it plays a major role in maintaining and improving the social basis for the dairy farming sector. For this providing insight into our production processes is of vital importance.’
A point of attention is, among others, working towards a more circular milk production. This includes not only energy neutrality and effective reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases at farms (in order to contribute to the objectives of the Paris climate agreements), but a topic such as land-relatedness as well.
“Valuable within and to society”
By offering reliable, relevant and nutritious dairy products, FrieslandCampina makes a contribution to the provision of food for people. Being the producers of the milk, the dairy farmers are at the basis of the chain. As owners they manage large areas of land and they determine the landscape to a large extent. In both roles they are in the centre of society. At the same time, this society increasingly makes more and higher demands with respect to how the food is produced. Keurentjes: ‘The way in which we produce milk is just as important as what we produce. We want to ensure that the dairy farming sector and the cooperative are and remain an appreciated part of society. Sustainability, biodiversity and the way we treat the animals are essential themes here. At the same time, it is important that organisations and consumers gain more insight into and more understanding of the working conditions of the farmers and why we make certain choices. Connection is essential here and this requires transparency and visibility. Therefore we keep committing ourselves to making sure that the cow remains a part of the Dutch landscape.’
Acceleration and awareness
FrieslandCampina fully responds to developments in the market and social developments through, among others, the Foqus planet quality and sustainability programme and joint ventures, such as the Sustainable Dairy Chain (a joint venture of LTO Nederland, the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture, and the Dutch Dairy Association NZO). Still, FrieslandCampina wants to accelerate further in order to remain competitive. Keurentjes: ‘Being open to modernisations creates opportunities. If we utilise our inventiveness, share our knowledge and cooperate more with other farmers, suppliers, researchers, customers and other stakeholders, we will create more chances to seize.’
The Board and the members of the Members’ Council of FrieslandCampina will talk with the member dairy farmers about a more detailed definition of the cooperative vision. This vision will be the basis for the decision-making process in the cooperative for the coming years.