Annual CSR report
Annual CSR report
Annual CSR report
At A.Vogel, we sometimes say that CSR is in our DNA. For us, it’s nearly a matter of course that we take care of our environment. After all, we also depend on that environment for our business operation. Just consider nature, for example, the source of our products.
Reflecting on 2021, I think that cooperation is the key word for our CSR activities. We are convinced that CSR is something we have to do together. Together with A.Vogel employees, together as a CSR team, and together with partners. This became quite tangible this year at the start of the cooperation with Trees for All: all departments were given the opportunity to plant a tree in the new food forest next to our office. This collaboration will continue in 2022 with the planting of a real A.Vogel company forest. Inspiring symbols of fruitful collaboration with a positive influence on our environment.
This report presents what else we have achieved and what we want to continue working on together.
The power of nature
A.Vogel uses the power of nature to support your health in a natural way. We use plants from our own gardens for most of our products. In the ecological A.Vogel gardens in the Veluwe region, our gardeners harvest some 50,000 kg of plants each year. They are processed fresh immediately after harvesting and we make high-value products from them. Our goal is to support your health in a natural and sustainable way. Because whether you need vitamins, resilience or energy, much of what you need can be found in nature.
The power of nature fascinates us; we’d like to share the inspiration it gives us with you. In our A.Vogel gardens, you see, smell and experience the beauty of plants. Our visitor centre, a fully sustainable building, will open in October. Here, sharing inspiration is paramount. Nature is so remarkable!
It won’t surprise you that A.Vogel has a powerful bond with nature. We depend on nature, of course, for the ingredients we use. So for us it’s only natural that we keep an eye on the impact of our activities on the environment. That’s why we cultivate plants ecologically (EKO label) in the production gardens, for example. I.e., without artificial fertilisers or chemical pesticides. At A.Vogel, we realise that we can continue to exist only if man, the environment and the welfare of our surroundings are in balance.
This page relates our ambitions in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility and how we monitor this balance.
The CSR team has selected clear focal points. This helps A.Vogel take the next steps in future-proofing its business. We are pleased with the progress and the lovely initiatives that have been started. The CSR policy is becoming increasingly visible. How are we approaching this?
We have three expertise groups:
1. CO₂ reduction and CO₂ compensation;
2. Activating our employees and making the chain sustainable;
3. Contributing to (local) initiatives and charities.
You’ll encounter all of these aspects in the report. Read along with us.
A.Vogel and society
We wish to inspire with our knowledge about the power of nature. We also wish to be a committed neighbour. Several initiatives were launched in 2021 to reinforce this ambition. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic also played a major role in 2021. It made us realise even more how important it is to look after each other, to stay vital and to live together with nature.
Supporting entrepreneurs in the Veluwe region
Working together in the A.Vogel gardens
Many restaurants in the region had a tough time due to the lockdown. That’s why we at A.Vogel participated in “On Tour Together” at various restaurants in the Veluwe region. Fun for employees and good for the entrepreneurs.
Part of the annual bonus was also transposed into vouchers that could be spent at shops in Elburg.
In the spring and summer, several office employees helped cope with peak times in the gardens. After all, it’s a joint effort.
Keeping up vitality
You also promote health through good exercise. A.Vogel employees are encouraged to exercise. Running and cycling gear is made available, for example. It’s also possible to have A.Vogel pay for part of your athletic subscription.
We are particularly proud of our 16 colleagues who cycled the Alpenbrevet in Switzerland – a unique feat and a great achievement. A.Vogel took care of the entire tour.
Health for everyone
Staying healthy starts with healthy living. We prefer offering our products only if an extra helping hand is needed. Each year, through our gardens, newsletters, social media and our website, we inspire millions of people to live healthier lives. For example, our A.Vogel website is one of the best-known health portals in the Netherlands. People can reach us with health questions in various ways: via our information centre, but also directly by e-mail, Whatsapp or by phone. We offer e-learning to business customers.
Number of health questions answered
Facebook followers (A.Vogel NL)
Facebook followers (A.Vogel BE)
Already heard of Eva de Goede’s top tips? Eva has twice been voted the best hockey player in the world and shares her tips on how to stay fit and healthy.
CSR is a joint effort
Our smallest helpers
Today’s little ones also deserve a beautiful world to live in. With our Ranger Joost initiative, we give our smallest helpers the attention they deserve. Because without them we are nowhere. Care to join in? Follow Ranger Joost on his YouTube channel and roll up your sleeves!
Taking genuine steps to make the world a more beautiful and healthy place is something you do with others, of course. That’s why we collaborate with various parties.
The Wiel Foundation, for example, to offer opportunities to people who can use them.
During the national Nature Work Day, we provide information about the life of bees, along with maps to search for flora and fauna together with the Geldersch Landscape and Castles Foundation.
We started working together with Trees for All in 2021. The cooperation started on Sustainability Day, 1 October. That day, each A.Vogel department planted its own tree. Together, the trees form a small food forest on the A.Vogel grounds in Elburg.
In 2022, together with Trees for All, we will plant 2500 trees in the Netherlands. This is for the recovery of an old forest that is no longer vital. The recovery will benefit biodiversity.
We cherish several organisations. We donate an amount each year to Trésor, a rainforest conservation initiative. As well as to the Elburg Landscape Elements Foundation (SLE), to which we also make a voluntary contribution during the annual Nature Work Day.
We also donated gifts we didn’t use due to the cancellation of our Saint Nicholas party to the Elburg food bank. Additionally, just as in other years, we contributed to the Wiel Foundation.
With the Green Thumb, A.Vogel encourages its employees to share thoughts about which good causes the organisation could sponsor. Employees can propose great initiatives each quarter. This is how A.Vogel encourages everyone to do their bit for society. The CSR team then selects two good causes from the submissions. Together with the organisation, we give a big Green Thumbs-up to a great initiative.
A dream becomes a reality
A new and sustainable visitor centre
Tens of thousands of visitors come to the A.Vogel gardens each year. We try to have them experience the power, beauty and taste of nature. We also show how important it is to handle our nature carefully. For Wilfred Schenk, who has worked in the A.Vogel gardens for more than 35 years, it was a dream he had long cherished. A reception area for visitors to the gardens and a presentation of the A.Vogel production process: from plant to customer.
Construction of the visitor centre started in January 2022 and we expect to welcome the first visitors in mid-2023. We can’t wait! And this won’t be just any visitor centre. The latest developments will be used to make this visitor centre CO₂-neutral.
The green vetch roof will be full of all kinds of plants to encourage biodiversity.
Solar panels will be installed.
The building will be heated by means of a heat pump.
Wood frame construction will be used. All the wood will be from sustainability classification 1.
Nature is the source. This is also reflected in the golden Green Key certificate that we receive each year. We are even among the top three each year. Naturally, Wilfred’s ambition is to become the new number one with this new visitor centre. Green Key is the most important sustainability certificate for the tourism and recreation sector in the Netherlands.
Construction was supported by the excellent cooperation we have built up through the years with the Geldersch Landscape and Castles Foundation. We also cooperate with ’s Heeren Loo when it comes to daily activities for their clients. We will further intensify this cooperation by making the visitor centre the starting point for walks with a ranger, for example.
Sustainable development goals
With our CSR policy and philosophy, we at A.Vogel contribute to the following four SDGs in particular:
SDG 3 – Ensure good health and promote well-being for all ages.
SDG 4 – Quality education for all, the foundation for sustainable development.
SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
SDG 15 – Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests and woodlands sustainably, combat desertification, stop and reverse land degradation and halt the loss of biodiversity.
A.Vogel and the environment
A.Vogel Netherlands and A.Vogel Belgium’s CO₂ footprint in 2021
Total: 979 tonnes
Explanation of our footprint
The largest part of our footprint comes from gas consumption. A.Vogel’s ambition is to reduce this significantly. So we launched two studies in 2021 to find out how we can reduce our CO₂ emissions from gas consumption.
Until these studies are completed, we will focus on keeping our gas consumption as low as possible. How do we do this? For example, by using the residual heat in our dispatch area to maintain the temperature in the storage area. Since the air is pumped through an HVAC unit, this can be done without extra heating or cooling. Our location in Belgium is nearly gas-free by using a heat pump.
Electricity use is a relatively small share of our footprint; except for our location in Belgium, we purchase all of our energy from green sources. Currently, 240 solar panels are installed on our roof and we have decided to install another 120 solar panels in 2022. Altogether, these solar panels will generate approximately 90 MWh annually. Nonetheless, we also intend to reduce usage wherever possible. We have installed motion sensors and will gradually replace all lighting with low-energy LED lighting.
Vehicle fleet and company machines
We work continuously to make our vehicle fleet more sustainable. We currently have 10 cars, four of which are electric and two hybrid. For our garden car and tractors, we were already using sustainable Synfuel; we have now switched to renewable diesel HVO made from recycled fryer grease. In 2021, we invested in a new absorption dryer for the compressed air system in the factory. In addition, we use electric equipment as much as possible, such as electric chain saws. Our tractors still run on fossil fuels, but we will make the switch and electrify these machines as well when the opportunity arises. We pay close attention to these developments.
CO₂ emissions in the chain
Our raw materials and transport
We cultivate the majority of our plants ourselves. This was 71% in 2021.
Transporting our products has a huge impact in terms of CO₂ emissions in the chain. So we continue to do research into how we can cultivate those plants ourselves that we don’t yet have in-house. That way, we can be sure that the cultivation satisfies our high standards!
We glean new knowledge in several ways, including via our intensive cooperation with growers in Switzerland and France. We are learning how to understand nature better – for example, by exchanging knowledge about growth problems in particular plants.
More about emissions in the chain
In 2021, we gained insight into the sustainability of our purchasing. The next step is drawing up a policy for sustainable purchasing and using this with our suppliers. This process is underway.
Our waste is carefully separated and processed as sustainably as possible.
Waste streams in 2021
Recycled waste in kg
Incinerated with energy recovery in tonnes
More about our waste
Alcohol distillate is a separate waste stream. The Dislaub Company in Germany processes this into biofuel. In 2020, this amounted to 246,597 litres, 97,669 of which were 100% alcohol.
We have around 2000 kg of biodegradable waste each year. This is turned into compost and we use it ourselves to enhance soil fertility in our gardens.
We reuse the waste water in the factory to flush the toilets. This results in annual savings of 33,000 L of water.
The caps from our jars that retailers return are donated to a foundation that trains guide dogs in Wezep.
Experience nature in the A.Vogel gardens
In the A.Vogel gardens, we literally bring our visitors closer to nature. We work each day on making the garden even more informative. We want to leave people more inspired after their visit and offer a broader perspective. We help people start to think about why they have so much concrete in their gardens and why there is no insect hotel! Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to welcome some 20,000 visitors this year. In normal years, these numbers are much higher.
We see a role for A.Vogel in raising people’s awareness of the need to treat our flora and fauna with care. We explain to our visitors why organic farming is important and how we keep biodiversity levels high – by alternating and coordinating crops, for example. In the insect garden, visitors experience the importance of our ‘little’ helpers and they’re encouraged to do their part – by making their own gardens insect-friendly, for example. Since this is so important, we’re making the insect garden even bigger in 2022. People actually walk among the blooming flowers and plants and they can also see our beekeeper’s demo hive!
And who knows, they might also see our new point of pride! Last year we released the beautiful swallowtail in our garden. To our great joy, this butterfly produced larvae and caterpillars. So we just can’t wait to see this extremely rare species in the gardens more often.
Our efforts to empower nature are confirmed by our EKO seal of approval. This seal of approval for organic food scores among the top 10 certification labels according to assessor ‘Milieu Centraal’.
You can taste things in the pick and savour garden, which is divided into four flavours:
sweet, which includes tastings of tomatoes, sweetcorn and stevia plants;
savoury, including Indian cress and rocket salad;
refreshing, with sorrel and borage, among others;
and finally fruity, with such delicious fruits as raspberries, cherries, blackberries and strawberries.
In the herb garden as well, visitors can experience various taste sensations and have the opportunity to make and drink delicious herbal tea right there. We want to activate people to plant an apple tree or a strawberry plant themselves in the garden.
Want to experience this for yourself? Just be patient, and keep an eye on our website for the current possibilities: www.avogel.nl/tuinen.
Numbers 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%
- 2021 / 20.000 visitors 50% 50%
In 2018, we had fewer visitors than we were used to, probably because of the heat. Visitor numbers grew in 2019. The figure can be broken down into approximately 4,500 package visitors, 2,000 participants in our walking tour and 35,000 individual visits. In 2020, we welcomed fewer visitors due to COVID-19. In 2021, we closed due to the pandemic and the initial restructuring of the gardens. There were still many walkers around the Zwaluwenburg estate, where the A.Vogel gardens are located.
Personnel Netherlands and Belgium 2021
Employee satisfaction survey
In 2020, we measured our employees’ satisfaction. It was good to hear that our employees felt good about us, particularly in such a difficult year as 2020. The rate of response was 88%.
Last year: 7.8
% of employees who would recommend us
Last year: 65%
A.Vogel as an employer
Last year: 7.7
How much ‘Fan Energy’*
Last year: 447
* Fan Energy consists of a multiplication of three results: satisfaction X success X engagement. The score is between 0 and 1000.
How could it be otherwise? At A.Vogel, we pay lots of attention to our people’s physical health and the possibilities for personal growth. During the various lockdowns, it was difficult to continue with our FIT programme. We tried to accommodate this with various exercise initiatives. For example, we enjoy the memory of our evening walk with colleagues on the clog path in Elburg. We’ll certainly do that again!
Having fun together generates lots of energy. And our team day in Rotterdam was hugely successful. After a boat tour through the harbour and a city walk, we sat down to a delicious lunch in the Euromast!
Absence due to illness at A.Vogel Netherlands
Absence due to illness at A.Vogel Belgium
Total number of training hours used
Average number of training hours per employee
A.Vogel for better opportunities
We also like working together on a healthy job market. For various target groups such as students, immigrants and people with job-market challenges.
Each year, we supervise a number of interns. We consider it important for young people to be given the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at our fine company. We also regularly get holiday workers from the local high school, for example. They have lots of theoretical knowledge, and we are glad to supplement this with our practical experience. It’s how we get youth closer to nature – by learning about the growth process of plants, for example. Both parties always reflect with great enthusiasm after a few days in the gardens.
This year, two job-challenged employees help us with mail processing, separating waste and in our estate store.
Efforts by the residents of the Westbroek care farm were temporarily sidelined by corona, but plans have been made to revive this. We can really use the help in various activities such as mowing, pruning and harvesting.
Andre Kuipers with part of the A.Vogel CSR team
Ellen Junte – Executive Secretary
Wilfred Schenk – Head of the Gardens
Gisella van Oene – Product Manager
Edwin Stoel – General Manager
Ernst-Jan Ruessink – Operations Manager
Dick Wolf – Production Operator
Thomas Bakker – Marketing Communications
Frida Miedema – MRA staff
Despite the fact that getting together in person has been (nearly) impossible, the CSR team hasn’t sat still. On the contrary. In order to place more focus on our CSR efforts, we established three expertise groups. These groups focus on the following areas:
Expertise group 1
- CO₂ reduction
- CO₂ compensation
Expertise group 2
- A.Vogel’s involvement with the community
Expertise group 3
- Employees’ active involvement with CSR
- Sustainability of store (promotional) material
- Sustainability of bulk packaging
So we continue to work hard. We are extremely pleased that our General Manager not only supports us, but has also joined the CSR team. As so many do, we hope to be able to work together face-to-face again soon.
Golden Green Key seal of approval
This year, we have once again been awarded the golden certificate from Green Key for the A.Vogel gardens. It’s a beautiful confirmation that we are still on the right track!
From a love of mankind and nature to a global company
We’re in step with the times, but we also think it’s important to keep honouring the past. Because even today, we still follow the philosophy of our founder, Alfred Vogel, who died at the age of 94. This means that the love for mankind and nature is paramount in all our activities. Our agriculture is ecological, without using artificial fertilisers or chemical pesticides. All of our products are made without animal testing and with care for natural resources.
Alfred Vogel was born in 1902 in Aesch, Switzerland. Even at a young age, he believed in nature as the source of a healthy life. He committed his life to this recognition of nature. From health food store owner, to information disseminator, naturalist and researcher, to developing medicines and establishing the parent company of A.Vogel: A.Vogel AG.
An overview of Alfred Vogel 's career
At the age of 21, Alfred Vogel became the owner of a health food store.
The first issue of his publication ‘Das Neue Leben’ (the new life) appeared in 1929. With this, he wanted to make people aware of the power of nature. Other publications followed later, including ‘The Nature Doctor’, now with some 2 million copies in circulation.
Starting at the age of 35, Alfred, a naturalist, started with the research, development and production of the first natural medicines based on fresh plants. For this, he made extensive study trips to North America, Central America, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
During his first trip to America in the early 1950s, he encountered the Sioux chief Ben Black Elk, who told him about the medicinal properties of red sunflower (Enchinacea purpurea).
In the late 60s, Alfred carried out research in Africa on another important herb in A.Vogel NL’s assortment, Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
In 1963, he founded Bioforce AG, which today is a leading global company in natural medicines and food. The name of the company was changed to A.Vogel AG in 2019.
information about the annual social report
A.Vogel B.V. (Nederland)
J.P. Broekhovenstraat 16
8081 HC ELBURG
t +31 (0)525 68 72 00