Combining productivity with sustainability is possible in the food industry
In the eyes of a part of society and as a result, in many cases, of misinformation, it is often the perception that industries in general, and therefore also the food industry, has little care of the environment, and we are often labelled as contributing to the planet’s deterioration.
In Sant Dalmai we have been in the food industry sector for 55 years. During this time we have seen the evolution of the sector and our own company, and today we can affirm that we endeavour to do all our activities in a way that is respectful of the environment and sustainable over time.
As an example we would like to share the story of the last extension made at the factory and which, after almost 2 years of building and installation work, has allowed us, among many other things, to save more than 4,000,000 litres of water a month!!!! The story is as follows:
In mid-2015 we decided to expand the cooking area, because the existing facilities were already over 40 years old and could not take on all the workload we had. In other words, they were an obsolete bottleneck.
During the 3rd quarter of 2015, we devoted ourselves, in the midst of the day-to-day hustle and bustle, to designing an extension based on replicating what we already had, but newer and more capable. Come autumn we already had everything ready to begin the works but found a moment to pause, and from that reflection came out a few questions:
- Is the current situation the same as 48 years ago when Sant Dalmai’s cooking system was designed?
- Does current technology enable us to do something better?
- Are water reserves the same?
- Do we see ourselves in 2050 cooking ham like in 1970?
- Apart from water, we should take into account the fuel to heat it. Are there more sustainable options?
These questions led us to forget the project that we had already done, rethink everything and devote several more months to finding alternatives under two main premises: Sustainability and Durability.
We were aware that to achieve that, the initial investment would increase (greatly) but the guidelines were clear and exciting.
By the end of the first quarter of 2017, we had defined a radically different project, which today, after its execution and in operation, enables us to claim that:
- Water consumption is reduced by 53%, or in other words: we save more than 4,000,000 litres of water a month!
- The fuel consumption necessary to heat the cooking water is 16% lower.
- 95% of the fuel used to heat the cooking water is biomass, from the cleaning of forests near the factory.
- Atmospheric emissions are reduced thanks to both the reduction of fuel consumption and biomass replacing fossil fuel.
And all this is achieved without giving up productivity. The current facilities:
- Can take over the actual production increase and is sized to deal with the expected growth.
- Are equipped with state-of-the-art technology that permanently automates and monitors quality and food safety parameters.
- Are flexible and allow the R&D department to implement recipes previously impossible to cook.
Totally apart from all the aforementioned but following the will to be environmentally friendly and sustainable over time, in 2019 we have changed our electricity supplier in order to find one that certifies that 100% of the energy comes from 100% renewable sources.
All this is one more example that today in the agro-food industry, and Sant Dalmai SAU has shown it, it is possible to be productive and at the same time be respectful of the environment, with a medium-to long-term vision.
In a world where in the year 2030 there will be more than 9 billion people, food industries have to work with the double challenge of offering products within the reach of the population that are, at the same time, sustainable. The responsibility is great and at companies such as Sant Dalmai SAU, with a long-term vision and a will to endure, we do not hesitate to sacrifice short-term results in order to continue making progress in the path of sustainability.