Can companies take the long view on sustainability progress?

We shared some of our biggest dilemmas for the first time in Nutreco’s 2018 Sustainability Report. In the years since, this has been the section of our report that elicits the most comments and questions from readers. We’re glad we have sparked conversation about these issues.

It’s important to us to bring our challenges into the light as we work toward our RoadMap 2025. We call them “dilemmas” because there is no easy fixand resolving them often involves working across many layers of the value chain. We believe candid discussions around these dilemmas is the first step in tackling them together and moving forward as an industry.

In previous sustainability reports, we’ve talked about how to absorb the costs of sustainable feed ingredients across the value chain, and how pre- competitive platforms have promised to be an effective way to address complex and sensitive environmental and social challenges. As we write this year’s report, we have just announced a development that brings this kind of collaboration into commercial reality. Our aquaculture business line, Skretting, is partnering with Netherlands- based shrimp importer Klaas Puul and Dutch sustainable feed ingredient suppliers Protix and Veramaris to supply supermarkets across Europe – starting with leading Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn – with more sustainable shrimp produced in Latin America. We’re proud to see this project come to fruition. But it was a long road to get there.

It started back in 2018, when Nutreco gave a talk at the Barcelona Seafood Summit about how sharing the costs of sustainability across the value chain can make real change possible. In mid-2019, Nutreco approached Albert Heijn with a compelling idea about using this approach to make shrimp feed more sustainable. Simultaneously, the retailer approached their supplier, Klaas Puul, with a similar proposition and asked them to connect with Nutreco to develop a joint proposal. Nutreco reached out to sustainable feed ingredient suppliers Protix and Veramaris to join the consortium. However, despite the partners’ willingness to proceed, it took two-and-a-half more years to realise the joint ambitions.

This brings us to another dilemma. Do companies have the will and the patience often required to shift to more sustainable business practices? Real change doesn’t happen overnight. It requires transforming cultures and waiting for stakeholders to listen, understand, align and ultimately take ownership.

The same thing happens internally. Nutreco developed our bold but realistic sustainability RoadMap 2025 at the end of 2019, and it was signed off by management the following year. Soon we realised that while developing measurable targets is a very important step, it’s only the first of many. We found that before you make progress, you need to get everyone on the same page, get people to take ownership, and then, maybe, finally, you will reach the inflection point towards change.

For example, we committed to stop selling CIAs by 2025. We dedicated the first few years to mapping where and how much we were selling, informing our internal stakeholders and creating alternative approaches incorporating holistic best practices on animal farms – and ultimately saw little progress. Then it suddenly came together, with all relevant stakeholders taking action, and we achieved a 35% reduction in 2022 compared to 2021. While the reduction happened over one year, it reflected three years of behind-the-scenes effort. How do often short-term focused corporates and management teams take a long-term view on making real progress on critical issues?

Sustainability progress almost always takes longer than we think. The targets are in place, the commitment is there, but then, timing and the human factors of understanding and ownership come into play. Our RoadMap 2025 makes our path clear – we have a dot on the horizon that shows where we want to go and how. Now we just need the patience and persistence to get there – and hope our partners have it too.


1. About Nutreco
2. Our Roadmap
3. Pillar one: Health & welfare
4. Pillar two: Climate and circularity
5. Pillar three: Good citizenship
6. Sharing dilemmas
7. Ethics and compliance
8. Innovation: A sustainability keydriver
9. About this report