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Our continuous commitment to reporting on Valagro's sustainability

For 40 years, Valagro has been helping farmers get the best out of their production by optimising the use of resources and production inputs with one goal: to create a sustainable future for people and nature. This objective can only be achieved with a basic coherence that characterises not only the solutions offered to the global market, but also the production processes and corporate culture.
The Social and Environmental Report (or Sustainability Report) is a useful tool that helps us describe, year after year, our consistent and constant commitment to sustainability. It is an act of responsibility towards the wider community we operate in, and with which we hope to cultivate a culture that is ever more respectful of the environment and attentive to the community's needs.

The data shown below refer to Valagro Spa's environmental, economic and corporate results. 

The Valagro Group in numbers

 

Our activities mainly contribute to these Sustainable Development Goals (UN Sustainable Development Goals): 

 

Our environmental impact

Introduction

As indicated in the previous versions of the Sustainability Report, we need to consider the relationship between these indicators and the value of production in order to correctly interpret the indicators relating to the environmental impact of Valagro SpA's activities.

In the transition from 2017 to the next two-year period, the latter recorded a decrease mainly due to operation of the production plants located abroad, in Brazil, India and Norway. Given that the goal pursued by Valagro is to improve the transparency and accessibility of information relating to its environmental, economic and social impact, the company's commitment is to integrate monitoring of the performance of sustainability of its production branches overseas. As for the indicators of Valagro SpA, it should be noted that a more detailed analysis is available in the EMAS –  Eco-Management and Audit Scheme declaration available on the Valagro website on the Certifications page.

 

Featured

Waste

Compared with the quantity of waste produced – which includes all the waste fractions generated at the Atessa plant – it is noted that in relation to the increase in production in the two-year period 2018 and 2019, the trend of the indicator is rather stable. In order to further contain the production of waste, a rationalisation of purchases is under way, in order to select suppliers able to ensure packaging-free supplies (in silos, tanks, or with packaging that can be made totally reusable).

Metals emissions

As for emissions into the atmosphere, in 2019 the total quantities of metals emitted remained stable compared with previous years, although there was a variation in the mix of products produced (increase in the productivity of the chelate plant) which in the past would have led to an increase in emission levels. This was avoided by improving emission filtration systems. In fact, Valagro pursues the goal of continuously improving the bag filters of plants. Triboelectric detectors were installed at all the chimneys where dust is present to improve checks on any leaks from the filtering bags. The use of selected raw materials and the continuous search for higher environmental performance aim to reduce emissions into the atmosphere as much as possible. In this case, the emission of metals represents a significant target that the company will also try to reduce in the future.

VOS - Volatile organic substances (II - III - IV)

From the point of view of the emissions of volatile organic substances (phenol, isobutyl alcohol and isobutyl acetate), it is important to note that their value is influenced by the production mix. In 2019 it can be noted that while VOS in class III and IV recorded a decrease, those in class II recorded a slight increase, due to an increase in the production of some formulations that contain VOS II.

In any case, the multi-year downward trend is confirmed and it is believed that also in the next few years it will be possible to reach even lower thresholds of these values.

Thermal Energy

Thermal energy represents one of the main critical factors within company production processes. In 2019 there was an increase in the thermal energy indicator (TOE/Ton PF) and this is due to a shift in the production mix in favour of more energy-intensive products. In any case, the use of a co-generator within the production process has made it possible to increase the efficiency of processes in which the thermal sources are present. The growing value is mainly due to the fact that almost 50% of the electricity used in the plants is produced through cogeneration and this consequently leads to an increase in thermal consumption.

Energy and CO Emissions

 

Currently the cogeneration plant represents a fundamental pillar for optimisation of Valagro SpA's energy consumption: its installation has made it possible to increase the productivity of the plants, especially during the drying phase, exploiting the capacity to treat all the semi-finished products coming from the reactors, and thus ensuring high production standards. In addition to the thermal capacity, the plant ensures approximately 400 KW of electrical power: this has made it possible to reduce the share of electricity purchased from the grid and to obtain an overall process efficiency (electrical and thermal) of over 85%.

Water withdrawals

Valagro believes that water is an indispensable and precious primary good. In 2019 there was an increase in water withdrawals, mainly due to the increase in the production of products in liquid form (in particular biostimulants), and also to the use of water for the cleaning of production lines. which re-enters circulation in these products.

 

Highlights

For Valagro, monitoring CO₂ emissions associated with the production of its solutions – a goal driven by initiatives such as EPD certification – is a concrete commitment that allows the company to limit the environmental impact by making agricultural production more sustainable and of a higher quality.

The production of healthy food for a healthy world is a challenge that Valagro strongly believes in, and today this commitment takes on renewed value thanks to the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, the cornerstone of the European Green Deal. In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals mentioned at the beginning of this report, and thanks to specific actions that affect the entire supply chain, from agriculture to the way food is labelled, the F2F strategy intends to promote the transition towards a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system on a global level, through trade policies and international cooperation between Europe and third countries.

Valagro solutions compared with standard management systems, with reference only to fertilisation plans, have lower values of CO₂  emissions. This is to be related both to the lower quantities of product used, and to the effectiveness of Valagro products. In general, from the tests carried out, it can be stated that for the same production, the crops managed with Valagro solutions have a considerably lower impact than those managed with standard products.

 

Focus on solutions

Talete

In 2019 Valagro launched its innovative biostimulant Talete. Born from the exclusive GeaPower technologicy platform to increase Crop Water Productivity, Talete promotes sustainable production in conditions of adequate water availability and in conditions of permanent or temporary scarcity.

“Talete concretely represents Valagro's mission to create a sustainable future for people and nature; thanks to Talete, Valagro is able to provide a viable solution to farmers around the world to get the most out of their crops by optimising the use of an increasingly precious resource, water. To meet the growing needs of the world population we must radically change the way in which water is used, managed and shared, especially in agriculture, which alone is responsible for 70% of global freshwater consumption. In line with our mission, and in response to the appeal of international organisations such as FAO on creating innovative technical means for sustainable food production, we have put the best of our research and innovation, the result of the GeaPower technology platform, at the service of agriculture, with the aim of making it increasingly productive and at the same time increasingly efficient" (CEO G. Natale, 4th World Congress on the Use of Biostimulants in Agriculture, Barcelona).

Solutions based on microorganisms

For Valagro, 2019 marked the beginning of the adventure with microbial formulations. Indeed, in May 2019, Valagro BioSciences (the Indian branch of the group) promoted a tour that crossed 6 Indian states - Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra - to present a new line of innovative solutions based on microorganisms that include biostimulants, biofertilisers and the first Valagro branded biocontrol product for the Indian market. The distinctive feature of this new line of microorganism-based products can be summarised with the word sustainability. This goal is mainly supported by improvement in the efficiency of use of nutrients, because the microorganisms underlying these innovative solutions are indeed capable of releasing precious, otherwise unavailable, nutrients into the soil, and can increase the ability of crops to assimilate water and nutrition. 

 

Our manufacturing facilities abroad

United States

In 2019, Valagro formalised construction of the Orangeburg plant, in the United States, with a groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by members of the local community, esteemed guests, state representatives, as well as members of federal government. Consistent with Valagro’s commitment to innovation, the plant will introduce cutting-edge technologies for the production of plant biostimulants and chelated micronutrients in the United States. The opening of the production site will also involve the creation of nearly 50 new advanced manufacturing jobs. Thanks to the Orangeburg production plant, Valagro will be able to better meet current and future American demand for innovative sustainable agriculture solutions, better serve North American customers, and advance the use of biological products in agriculture.

India

Among the main interventions completed in 2019 at the  Pashamylaram  plant, it is worth noting  biological facility revamp, done with fully automized mechanization, which can use to produce the world class microbial cultures with fully controlled environment by SCADA system.  Highlights of the project have been the fermentation unit modernization, as well as the new lyophilization unit, a high efficiency technology for better preserve the microbial vitality and ensure an outstanding quality to pour customer. biological facility revamp, done with fully automized mechanization, which can use to produce the world class microbial cultures with fully controlled environment by SCADA system.  Highlights of the project have been the fermentation unit modernization, as well as the new lyophilization unit, a high efficiency technology for better preserve the microbial vitality and ensure an outstanding quality to pour customer.

This technology is used to produce microbial-based products useful to control the soil deterioration, convert insoluble nutrients to soluble forms, improve the utilization of the same and promote overall plant development.

Further interventions concerned:

  • Hazardous waste material segregations sheds, that were built to avoid cross-contamination and to decrease some other seviour issues to the environment.
  • Distribution of dustbins to nearby villages to collect household waste.
  • The introduction of a solid packing machine improves the production efficiency to arrive at a required goal by limiting energy consumption and manpower hours.
  • Control of water consumption to lower the use of water to clean the required equipment. This allowed more water savings compared with the manual process.

Norway

Main interventions carried out in 2019 at the Kristiansund  site:

  • Installation of safer stairs to access the main offices.
  • Installation of a fire surveillance system to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Improvement of air quality in the offices.
  • Improve the lightening efficiency using LED technology. Reduce the energy consumption.
  • Increased the height of the chimney of the wet side to lower the impact of the smell on the closest neighbors.
  • installation of safer stairs to access the main offices.
  • Installation of a fire surveillance system to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Improvement of air quality in the offices.
  • Improve the lightening efficiency using LED technology. Reduce the energy consumption.
  • Increased the height of the chimney of the wet side to lower the impact of the smell on the closest neighbors.

Main interventions carried out in 2019 at the Brønnøysund site:

  • Lateral cladding of the warehouse to limit the emission of the noise and lower the impact on the closest houses.
  • New warehouse closer to the production site to guarantee the sustainability of the business and manage the stock of semi-finished and finished products.  Drastic reduction of the logistic impact and lower consumption of CO₂  deriving from the logistic of semi-finished and finished products.
  • Replacement of a rotten wooden structure with a stainless steel to temporary stock the fresh seaweed before being treated. Increase the safety of the products to be sold as FEED.
  • Start of the realization (completed in 2020) of a new harvester suitable to harvest in a sustainable manner: the cutting system is designed to avoid the damage of the root of the seaweed making the process sustainable.

Brazil

In 2019 the following interventions were completed at the Pirassununga plant:

  • Acquisition for safety and protection in order to walk on the cargo in a safety condition.
  • Safety adequation for Cobalt Sulphate and Boric acid dosing in order to avoid contact and exposure with the dust of this raw materials.
  • Construction of gutter around Water Soluble Fertilizers unit in order to collect water spillage and waste of water around the plant.
  • Installation of hot water pipeline in order to reduce the consumption of water during the washing in Water Soluble Fertilizers unit.
  • Other investments for the plant security such as the installation of guard rail in the warehouse to improve the occupational safety.

 

Our Added Value

Added Value summarises the company's ability to produce wealth to then distribute it to the various stakeholders. Its fundamental components are the Economic Value Generated from ordinary company management and then the distribution in terms of  Economic Value Distributed and Economic Value Retained. The portion of Economic Value Distributed is divided among the main stakeholders: Suppliers, Employees, Partners - Shareholders, Central Administration, Community and the environment. On the other hand, the Economic Value Retained relates to value adjustments, anticipated and deferred taxes, provisions to reserves and profit for the year.

Economic Value of Valagro Spa in Millions of euros

  2017 2018 2019
Generated
99,179,769
96,703,770
95,855,515
Distributed
93,275,647
84,528,279
88,938,566.96
Retained
5,904,121
12,175,491
6,916,947.71

Revenues
by geographical area

 

2019

 Vs 2018

EMEA

40,449
- 7%

AMERICAS

21,225
- 6%

ASIA PACIFIC

19,727
10%

 

Commitment to our people

Our Company Culture

The 25th July marks a crucial date for Valagro: the company launched its new distinctive corporate vision, mission, values and culture. Celebrating the company story, the story of a dream started forty years ago with its founders and then come true, Valagro People has shared the willingness to follow the lead of a higher perspective, to create a greater value, a sustainable future for people and nature, and ultimately to embrace what we define to be the “Living by the Third way”. It is the mindset that allows Valagro people to deliver innovation in agricultural for producing more with the sustainability at heart, nurturing the ability to  do  extraordinary  things, capitalizing the diversity, working with excellence in order to achieve ambitious goals, turning the impossible into reality.

To act with integrity, to be passionate, trustworthy and able to create connections and innovation with courage, curiosity and determination, making change happen.  All this belongs to the Company identity since always and everywhere in the world: they are the Valagro values, the best synthesis of what leads the Valagro People’ daily actions.
 

The growth of Valagro Corporate University globally

Learning to learn is the way to excellence. And excellence is a core value of Valagro in its future path to greater success. Valagro is committed to become a ‘learning organization’ by a constant and pervasive learning. That’s why in 2019 the Company boosted its investment in learning, providing tools for the employees to improve their professional and managerial skills. The Valagro Corporate University (VCU) has been developed at global level for guiding and supporting the people growth by enabling continual, digital tech and multi-modal learning, requiring a personal responsibility and engagement in make learning part of the job.
The spreading of the digital learning to people of Valagro Group has increased the opportunities to learn: by self-paced courses, internal and external webinars, learning is not anymore something to do alternatively to work, but the space, in the flow of the work, for building competencies while impacting results and faster building connections across the whole organization.

One of the main programs that VCU has launched in 2019, was a development path oriented to foster the Sales people, who are recognized as trustworthy referents, fully engaged in ‘serving Nature through Science’.  Working synergistically, they deliver the acumen and scientific expertise that Valagro matured in the agribusiness to each of its business partners globally. The path supports Valagro Sales teams in sharing the same language and the same attitude ‘to create a sustainable future’, practicing a reliable standard of work to sustain customer satisfaction and long-term partnerships.

Best Performance Award 2019

In 2019 Valagro was awarded the Best Performance Award 2019, in the “Best Performer of the Year” category. Together with JP Morgan Private Bank, PwC, Refinitiv and Gruppo 24 ORE, the SDA Bocconi School of Management is among the promoters of this initiative. Established three years ago, it aims to promote the best Italian companies that stand out for their excellence in sustainable development understood in a broad sense, i.e. the ability to do business while ensuring corporate continuity with respect for the human and environmental aspect (Green & Social), innovation (Innovation & Technology) and economic management (Value Added). The prize awarded to Valagro in the "Best Performer of the Year" category recognises the company's commitment to making the issue of sustainability central within everyday life, and to investing in human capital to foster the potential of each person with respect to their skills, competences and needs.

Welfare & Wellbeing

There are many initiatives that Valagro has taken for making the Company a ‘good place to work’. The important renewing of buildings, the internal canteen, the new spaces for facilitating relax and business meetings: all of them have been done with a special attention in creating an great and pleasant environment, choosing sustainable materials and with people wellbeing at heart. Other initiatives, in terms of work flexibility and agile working have been started and Valagro will continue to boost them, focusing on results and consistently with one of its core value: people trust. In 2019, the welfare package has been enriched of an initiative for supporting the family wellbeing of employees and their kids: a very funny and successful summer camp!

 

 

Commitment to our customers: Valagro Academy

Valagro Academy is a programme dedicated to Valagro customers, who have always been at the centre of company activities. Founded in 2016, Valagro Academy is designed to promote Valagro's expertise in the field of crop nutrition and biostimulants, and to illustrate how Valagro solutions can improve crop performance for the benefit of efficiency and sustainability in agriculture. Coordinated by the Marketing team and Market Development Managers, Valagro Academy provides highly qualified assistance and training sessions to the sales team of Valagro customers in order to share information and updates on the world of plant nutrition and biostimulants, together with specific sessions on products, local needs and the most effective solutions to be applied in the field.

 

Commitment to the community: Ortiamo

Ortiamo is the educational project promoted by Valagro in the two-year period 2018-2019 to raise awareness among young people of the value of sustainability in agriculture. The project involved almost 400 elementary school students in the provinces of Chieti and Pescara (Italy), with the aim of promoting the role of sustainable agriculture in ensuring increasing quality and efficiency in agricultural production as the basis of a healthy and safe diet. This educational project was based on the active involvement of children, who closely observed the life cycle of a salad plant which they took care of until the moment of harvesting. The participation of parents and the wider community was made possible by the creation of a dedicated website, and also in 2019 by an online web series on the Ortiamo.net website which, in line with the aims of the project, saw children become protagonists in narrating their own experience.

 

 

Our Research

In 2019, the activity of the Global Research team saw, on the one hand, a culmination of the research activity with the publication of scientific articles that have as their object the contribution of biostimulants to the productivity and sustainability of agriculture, and, on the other hand, the commitment and active participation in projects aimed at pursuing sustainability goals. Among these, in particular, two projects entered into full swing in the two-years period 2018-2019: participation in the POR FESR Abruzzo project called "RECOVER" for the recovery and enhancement of absorbent hygiene products, with the aim of producing nutritional solutions for agriculture; and participation and coordination of the POR FESR Abruzzo project called "INNOPAQ - Sustainable innovation for high-quality agri-food production" aimed at the study and development of biostimulants for agronomic applications, in order to improve the characteristics of some typical crops of the area and develop agri-food products with high health and nutritional value.

Another important collaboration is the one started with the University of Bari to support an industrial Ph.D. Research project for the exploitation of the potential of some aquatic plants present on the Mediterranean coasts.  

But 2019 was mainly marked by the definition of research and planning strategies in the field of microorganisms, essentially aimed at promoting nutrient use efficiency and uptake, soil health, and biocontrol solutions.

The strategic activity of the "Scientific Advisory Committee", composed of a team of international experts in various fields, such as plant physiology, the study of micro and macroalgae, soil science, microbiology and nanotechnologies, was also pursued in 2019.On 20 June 2019, the Scientific Committee met with the Valagro research team to discuss relevant scientific topics for the company's research strategies and support the Valagro team in identifying new technological applications, innovative solutions, and opportunities for networking and collaboration on a global level.

 

Main technical and scientific innovations

In the Quality Unit, we can mention the implementation ofthe new ICP -AES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy) tool, one of the most advanced tools currently available, capable of "simultaneously" analysing more than 70 elements. This tool is used for the analysis of microelements and heavy metals in complex matrices such as those of biostimulants and fertilising products. Thanks to this new tool, the Global Research team is able to perform faster, more reliable analyses at a lower cost than in the past.

The "Fast Scan Spectroscopy" technology is also used for the characterisation and verification of incoming raw materials and finished products. Through this technique it is possible to acquire a fingerprint that enables recognition of the substance being analysed with a high degree of precision. This is faster, cheaper and safer for operators than traditional means of analysis.

The reduction in the use of dangerous organic solvents through the use of “green” analytical technologies that involve the use of water, or spectroscopic techniques that generate zero impact, contribute to realising positive externalities from an economic and environmental point of view. 

 

The G4 GRI guidelines

Starting with the 2016 edition of the Sustainability Report, we have embarked on a path of progressive adaptation to the international standards dictated by the Global Reporting Initiative – GRI. This innovation is an integral part of our commitment to sharing and transparency, because it provides us with an objectively valid basis to better relate to the whole community, as is the aim of this report: the G4 GRI guidelines help us to communicate the impact of company activities from a social, environmental and economic point of view.