CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

CSR Annual Report

A.Vogel 2020

Managing Director
Edwin Stoel


2020 – what a year. Everyone faced challenges. In the various sections of this CSR annual report we explain how we fared during the year. Demand for our products rose, so staff in the primary process had to work overtime. Office staff working from home came to help out in the gardens, the factory and the warehouse. Coronavirus showed us just how important it is to care for each other, and for our children and their future.
All the more reason for the CSR team to get together virtually and work even more effectively to promote sustainability. This report contains more details on this objective, and on the plans for a new – and of course sustainable – visitor centre. All being well, we will be able to start construction this year.

A.Vogel and the environment

CO2-footprint of A.Vogel Netherlands and Belgium 2020

Total 979 tonnes

    Notes concerning our footprint


    The bulk of our footprint is caused by gas consumption. We would of course like to stop using gas, but developments are occurring so fast that it is difficult to take decisions on this right now. In the meantime our focus is on keeping our gas consumption as low as possible. The residual heat in our dispatch area is used to maintain the correct temperature in the storeroom. Since the air is pumped round by an air handling unit, this can be achieved without additional heating or cooling. As well as reduction, we are also working towards full offsetting of our gas consumption.

    Our site in Belgium is already practically gas-free due to the use of a heat pump.

    (Green) energy

    With the exception of our site in Belgium, all the energy we purchase is green, hence the relatively low proportion of electricity in our footprint. We have a total of 240 solar panels. These supplied 29,145 kWh of electricity in 2020. That represents well over a quarter of the electricity consumed at the offices of A.Vogel in Elburg. We also limit our consumption through the use of motion sensors and by gradually replacing all bulbs with low-energy LED lighting.

    Vehicle fleet and industrial machinery

    We work continuously to increase the sustainability of our vehicle fleet. We currently have 10 cars, of which four are electric and two are hybrid. For our garden car and tractors we have switched from the already sustainable Synfuel to HVO renewable diesel. This year we have also purchased a new spading machine and a new forklift truck, one of the first operational electric forklift trucks in the Netherlands! We also already use electric equipment as far as possible, such as electric chainsaws.

    CO2-emissions in the supply chain

    Our raw materials and transport

    For the most part we cultivate our own plants. The proportion in 2020 was 79%. That is once again 6% higher than in the previous year.
    We purchase external crops largely from our parent company in Switzerland. In 2020 we transferred one production line from Roggwil to our production site in Elburg. That not only allows transport savings, but has also accelerated our production process, so we can meet demand more quickly.

    We are still continuously investigating ways to grow plants ourselves that we do not currently grow in house. We can then be certain that the cultivation meets our high standards!

    More about emissions in the supply chain


    We purchase our other supplies locally as far as possible. We also use a purchasing organisation, Columbus, which is strongly committed to sustainability. In the year ahead we aim to gain a fuller picture of the sustainability of our purchasing, so that we can demonstrate more clearly what we are doing and where we may be able to improve.

    Charging posts for electric bikes

    To make it as easy as possible for our visitors and employees to travel to our site by cycle or e-bike, we have installed charging posts near our A.Vogel gardens. In the year ahead we plan to do the same for our office staff to encourage the use of e-bikes as a replacement for cars as much as possible. That is healthy for mankind and the environment!


    Our waste is carefully separated and processed as sustainably as possible.

    Waste flows in 2020

    Recycled waste in kg

      Incineration with energy recovery in tonnes

        More about our waste
        • A separate waste flow comprises distillate alcohol, which is processed into biofuel by Dislaub in Germany. In 2020 this amounted to 246,597 litres, of which 97,669 litres consisted of 100% alcohol.
        • Every year we generate around 2,000 kg of organic waste. This is turned into compost which we use ourselves to fertilise the soil in our gardens.
        • We reuse our waste water in the factory to flush the toilets. This leads to an annual saving of 33,000 litres of water.
        • Lids from jars returned to us by retailers are donated to an organisation that trains guide dogs in Wezep.


        Experience nature in the A.Vogel gardens

        The A.Vogel gardens literally bring our visitors closer to nature. Due to coronavirus it was unfortunately not possible to receive many visitors during the year. In normal times we welcome tens of thousands of visitors annually and try to let them experience the strength, beauty and taste of nature as much as possible, at the same time making them aware that we must treat our flora and fauna with care. We explain to our visitors why organic cultivation is important and how we maintain high biodiversity, for example by alternating and coordinating crops. In the insect garden visitors learn about the great importance of our ‘little’ helpers and are encouraged to do their bit, for example by making their own gardens insect-proof.

        We see our award of the Eko quality mark as an endorsement of our efforts to empower nature. This organic food quality mark is one of the top 10 quality marks according to the assessor ‘Milieu Centraal’.

        Visitors can taste products in the pick-and-taste garden, which is subdivided into four flavours:

        • sweet, where visitors can taste tomatoes, sweetcorn and stevia plants, among others;
        • savoury, including nasturtiums and rocket;
        • fresh, including sorrel and borage;
        • and finally fruity, with wonderful fruits such as raspberries, cherries, blackberries and strawberries.

        In the herb garden too visitors can experience various taste sensations and have an opportunity to make and drink wonderful herb teas.

        If you are interested in doing this yourself, you will need to be patient for a while yet, but keep an eye on our website for the latest visiting opportunities: www.avogel.nl/tuinen.

        Number of visitors to our A.Vogel gardens

        • 2017 / 40.000 visitors 100% 100%
        • 2018 / 33.000 visitors 83% 83%
        • 2019 / 40.000 visitors 100% 100%
        • 2020 / 20.000 visitors 50% 50%

        In 2018 we received fewer visitors than usual, most probably due to the heat. The number rose again in 2019. This number can be subdivided into around 4,500 package visitors, 2,000 participants in our walking tour and 35,000 individual visits. In 2020 we received fewer visitors due to coronavirus.

        Our people

        Personnel in the Netherlands and Belgium 2020



        Employee satisfaction survey

        We conducted another survey of employee satisfaction in 2020. In such a difficult year it was very heartening to hear that our employees are happy working at A.Vogel. The response rate was 88%.

        Overall score

        Previous year: 7.8
        Benchmark: 8.1

        % that would recommend working with us


        Previous year: 65%
        Benchmark: 64%

        A.Vogel as an employer

        Previous year: 7.7
        Benchmark: 7.9

        Amount of Fan energy*

        Previous year: 447
        Benchmark: 503

        * Fan energy is the result of multiplying three results: satisfaction x success x retention. The score is between 0 and 1,000.

        The focus on physical health and personal growth potential was an important factor in the level of satisfaction. It was difficult to make further progress with our FIT programme during the lockdown. We tried to overcome this with various exercise initiatives. We also provided an opportunity to train (under supervision) for the Zwolle Half Marathon and the Alpenbrevet in Switzerland in 2021.

        Other high-scoring criteria were atmosphere and team spirit, job content, work-life balance and the scale of challenge.

        We are delighted with the positive results. Of course we are also pleased with the improvement suggestions. We will get down to work on these.

        Sickness absence at A.Vogel in the Netherlands


        Sickness absence at A.Vogel in Belgium


        Total number of training hours completed


        Average number of training hours per employee

        A.Vogel and society

        A helping hand at a crazy time

        March 2020 marked the start of a crazy period for the whole of the Netherlands. There were huge worries about the virus, but fortunately also a willingness to help each other. At A.Vogel we helped out by donating 5,000 face masks for home care staff and general practitioners in the region. We also donated coffee milk capsules and toilet paper to the Elburg Food Bank and gave Bambu cake to care home residents in Elburg and ’t Harde to lift their spirits.

        We continued various initiatives over the year. On ‘care day’, for example, we contributed to goody bags for care providers at the Amphia hospital in Breda. We supported local businesses in Elburg by replacing the traditional year-end parcel with vouchers that could be spent with them.

        Health for everyone

        Staying healthy starts with healthy living. We prefer to offer our products to those who need a helping hand. Through our gardens, newsletters, social media and website we inspire millions of people to live healthier lives every year. The A.Vogel website, for example, is one of the best-known health portals in the Netherlands. People can ask us health questions in various ways: through our information centre, but also directly by e-mail, WhatsApp or telephone. We provide e-learnings for business customers.

        Number of health questions answered

          Facebook followers (A.Vogel)

          Instagram followers

          E-mail newsletters

          A dream comes true

          A new and sustainable visitor centre

          This was the long-held wish of Wilfred Schenk, who has been working for the A.Vogel gardens for more than 30 years. It was a wish he shared with his garden colleagues. It would be an area where garden visitors could be welcomed and could view a presentation on the A.Vogel production process: from plant to customer. ‘People love hearing the story behind the product. Just take a look on social media. Photos of us harvesting crops in the rising sun generate a lot of likes’. That was one of the arguments that enabled the gardens team to fire the enthusiasm of the rest of the organisation and ultimately also the parent company in Switzerland.

          The cooperation with the Westbroek care farm at ‘t Harde was also inspiring. They share the grounds where the visitor centre is to be built. ‘We had opened a nice estate shop on the care farm, selling both A.Vogel products and products produced at the day centre. It became much too busy. We had to think of something else.’

          Read more

          The visitor centre will be built outside the residents’ living area, but they will continue to support us in the A.Vogel gardens and the new visitor centre. The centre will be built sustainably, of course. The aim is to make the centre completely CO2-neutral, with solar panels on the roof and a water pump. The feasibility of this is currently being examined. The remainder of the design is entirely wood-based; only the floor is concrete. The roof will be covered with sedum. This succulent plant allows energy-saving by cooling in the summer and providing insulation in the winter. It also ensures particularly clean air. Environmental factors have also been taken into account. The building will blend in perfectly with the landscape.

          Construction work is due to start in mid-2021. The result will certainly be presented in our next report. Better still, come and visit us as soon as we can open!


          Good causes

          We support a range of organisations. Every year we make a donation to Trésor, an initiative aimed at preserving the rainforests. Another example is Stichting Landschapselementen Elburg (SLE), to which we also make a voluntary contribution during the annual Nature Workday. We support the Oranje Fonds by enabling and encouraging our employees to participate during working hours in NLDoet, the largest voluntary initiative in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the Nature Workday and NLDoet have not taken place this year, due to coronavirus. We hope to be able to take part more actively in 2021 year!

          A.Vogel for better opportunities

          We also like to contribute to a healthy labour market. For various target groups such as students, immigrants and people with poor employment prospects.

          • Every year we have two students on a graduation assignment with us and we supervise four interns. The circumstances unfortunately made that impossible this year.
          • Two employees with poor employment prospects helped us during the year with mail handling, waste separation and in our estate shop.
          • Coronavirus also made it impossible for us to employ residents of the Westbroek care farm. Once proper precautions were in place, such as glass partitions on the planting machine, we were fortunately able to continue with the day centre. We were very pleased to receive their help again with various activities, such as lawn mowing, pruning and harvesting.
          • The photograph shows one of our temporary colleagues from Syria. A happy memory. As a token of appreciation for being able to work in the gardens he cooked a meal for all the staff of the A.Vogel gardens. Unfortunately, it was not possible to offer temporary work to immigrants this year due to coronavirus. Under normal circumstances we do this in cooperation with the municipality of Elburg and Stichting Wiel. That enables them to learn about Dutch customs and employment culture.

          CSR is a joint endeavour

          Our smallest helpers

          Our smallest helpers in particular deserve attention. Because without them we would not achieve anything. We therefore do our utmost to help them to help us. Will you join us?


          Taking actual steps to make the world a better and healthier place is something you obviously cannot do alone, so we work with a range of different parties.

          • 100 jobs plan: an initiative of the Business Circle and the municipality of Elburg aimed at creating jobs for people with poor employment prospects.
          • We work with Stichting Wiel to provide opportunities for people who need them most.
          • With Geldersch Landschap we tell people all about the life of bees and hand out flora and fauna search cards during the nationwide Natural Workday.

          As a thank you for the successful cooperation with the Inclusief Groep as part of the 100 jobs plan, director Edwin Stoel is pleasantly surprised to receive a cake from participation coach Addie ten Have, team manager Ronald van Hattem and the alderman of the municipality of Elburg, Henk Wessel.

          Sustainable development goals

          On the basis of our CSR policy and philosophy, A.Vogel contributes particularly to the following three SDGs

          • SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
          • SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
          • SDG 15 – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

          CSR team

          Although physical meetings were (almost) impossible, the CSR team was by no means idle. On the contrary. In order to adopt a more targeted approach to CSR, we set up three expertise groups focused on the following areas:

          Expertise group 1
          – CO2-reduction
          – CO2-offsetting

          Expertise group 2
          – Good causes
          – Engagement of A.Vogel with the environment

          Expertise Group 3
          – Active employee involvement in CSR
          – VIncreased sustainability of shop and promotional material
          – Increased sustainability of large packages

          So we are continuing to work hard in this area. We are very pleased that our managing director is not only backing us but has also joined the CSR team. Like many people we hope to be able to work together physically again soon. Until then these sheep have kindly agreed to pose on our behalf.


          Ellen Junte – Executive Secretary

          Wilfred Schenk – Head of Gardens

          Gisella van Oene – Product Manager

          Edwin Stoel – Managing Director

          Annick Leijenaar – Channel Manager

          Ernst-Jan Ruessink – Manager Operations

          Dick Wolf – Production Operator

          Arjo de Roon – Trade Marketeer

          Thomas Bakker – Marketing Communication

          Green Key gold quality mark

          In 2020 we again held the Green Key gold quality mark for the A.Vogel Gardens. Wonderful confirmation that we are still on the right track!






          From a love of mankind and nature to a global business

          We move with the times, but we also think it is important to honour the past. Because today we are still living up to the philosophy of the founder, Alfred Vogel, who died at the age of 94. That means a love of mankind and nature takes priority in all our activities; our crops are grown ecologically, without the use of artificial fertiliser or chemical pesticides. All our products are free of animal testing and manufactured with care for natural resources.

          Alfred Vogel was born in Aesch, Switzerland, in 1902. At a young age he already believed in nature as a source of healthy living. He devoted his life to this recognition of nature. From the owner of a health food store, to a disseminator of information, naturopath and researcher, to the development of medicines and the foundation of the parent company of A.Vogel: A.Vogel AG.

          Summary of the career of Alfred Vogel
          • Alfred Vogel became the owner of a health food store at the age of 21
          • In 1929 the first edition of ‘Das neue Leben’ (‘A Fresh Start’) was published, in which he sought to make people aware of the power of nature. Several publications were to follow, such as ‘Der kleine Doktor’ (‘The Nature Doctor’), of which more than two million copies are now in circulation.
          • At the age of 35 Alfred started as a naturopath, researching, developing and producing the first natural remedies based on fresh plants. For this work he took many study trips to North, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
          • It was during his first trip to America in the early 1950s that he came into contact with the Sioux chief Ben Black Elk, who told him about the powerful medicinal properties of the red sunflower (Enchinacea purpurea).
          • At the end of the 1960s Alfred carried out research in Africa into another important herb in the A.Vogel NL range, devil’s claw   (Harpagophytum procumbens).
          • In 1963 he founded Bioforce AG, which is now the world’s leading supplier of natural remedies and nutrition. The company was renamed A.Vogel AG in 2019.



          Information on the social annual report

          GRI commitment

          This social annual report is based on the latest generation of guidelines issued by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). These guidelines were applied to the SRS referenced level in 2017. Since then we have published an update to the report each year..

          The report has been reviewed by the organisation itself and has not been verified by external parties. The GRI table from 2017 is included as an annex.

          Scope of the report

          This report concerns the activities of A.Vogel in 2020. During the reporting no significant changes occurred in the size, structure or ownership of the organisation.

          Report frequency

          The intention is to present a report every year.


          Questions on this report can be directed to Karin Peters, Head of Brand & Customer Contact at A.Vogel.

          A.Vogel B.V. (Nederland)


          J.P. Broekhovenstraat 16

          8081 HC  ELBURG

          t +31 (0)525 68 72 00