A vast number of Austrian SMEs and large companies started implementing CSR practices after the World War II. However, CSR at that period took a form of strongly institutionalized "Social Partnership” which served as a dialogue platform between the main social partners (employees, employers, stakeholders).
Since 1970s Austria ranked as the country that demonstrated the highest level of organic farming within Europe with a distinct position against genetically modified organisms and a clear policy against nuclear power plants.
In his report "CSR in Austria”, Dr.Alfred W.Strigl mentions that "in the 1990s Austrian companies learned to deal with environmental and social friendliness and, last but not least, with the term "sustainability”.
Nowadays, enterprises begin to include this visionary concept in their own goals and understandings. Moreover, they start to implement the sustainability concept in their management strategies and use a great variety of tools to communicate this through sustainability reporting and open stakeholder dialogues.
According to respAct Austria, a platform dedicated to addressing all questions of sustainability, CSR and business ethics in Austria, "CSR integrates all fields of sustainability into corporate strategies. In order to be viable, the principles of social responsibility has to be adapted to the specific situation of individual companies. In this way they will be able to face the challenge of globalization and social change”.
A host of SMEs and large companies regard CSR as a driver of innovation. A strong focus on social, ecological and health issues pushes enterprises to create innovative products of a high quality. Investment in CSR provides enterprises with numerous benefits such as greater customer loyalty, increased employee retention and more motivated staff, energy efficiency, enhanced reputation, risks minimization. The aforementioned benefits allow company differentiate itself and acquire competitive advantage in the market.
Experience of Austrian snack producer Kelly GmbH demonstrates that the company is adept at understanding the signs of the time and requirements of the market.
Today’s customers expect companies to deliver value in a socially and environmentally responsible way. A deep understanding of the significant importance of CSR and its positive impact nudged the company to integrate CSR practices into all business operations.
Kelly creates and improves quality of products in compliance with customers’ wants. For example, Kelly’s consumers actively asked for foods made with natural flavors. This resulted in the use of only natural flavors in any new branded product company develops and brings to the market.
Managers at Kelly make joint efforts to ensure sustained growth of the company. They believe that CSR is all about continuous improvement and addressing new challenges.
To improve the quality of snacks, the addition of artificial flavor enhancers (e.g. Natrium glutamate) was reduced by 95% since 2007. During the process of snack production High Oleic Sunflower Oil with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids is used.
According to company’s website, Kelly collaborates with the Global Food Safety Initiative, a worldwide alliance of companies and NGOs working together to further improve food product safety. The objective is to continuously benchmark the company’s products safety standards against the best in the food industry. In addition to this, Kelly is regularly audited by AIB, a renowned international auditing firm and expert in product safety in the food industry.
Kelly’s Management Codex states that company bears responsibility for the right selection and support of employees. Management is confident in each and every employee’s contribution towards the jointly-decided company objectives.
Kelly’s corporate culture ensures transparent communication, training and personal development of staff, high level of health and safety standards in all production facilities.
Increased environmental and health awareness among customers spurs company to be transparent and provide all necessary information about product ingredients and provenance.
To communicate the origin of potatoes, the native region of the potatoes is printed on the back of each bag of the product that contains it. This information is also certified by the TŰV (technical inspection agency). Therefore, consumers can be sure that potatoes from the Kelly’s chips are 100% from the region imprinted on the bag – 100% Nature from Austria.
Environmental responsibility has a high priority at Kelly. By 2020 company is aimed to reduce CO2 emissions by 30%. Kelly stands for environmentally-friendly raw materials sourcing. Company is currently running a pilot project with some of its contract farmers in Austria and some of its Argentinean nut farmers to reduce water consumption, energy consumption and of agrochemicals in potato and nut production.
Kelly puts a strong emphasis on ethical sourcing. The company works as an active member of the African Cashew Alliance, RSPO ("Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”), collaborates with Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) to ensure fair working conditions in the countries of origin of its raw materials.
Kelly’s suppliers are assessed according to ETI criteria. Code of conduct for all suppliers is based on ETI standard. Management at Kelly expresses firm belief in that that sustainable growth of the company is impossible without integration of sustainable practices in supply chain.
As a partner to NGOs and GOs, Kelly runs several projects in the origin countries with the objective of improving working and living conditions of its cashew and peanut suppliers and pre-suppliers. In cooperation with GIZ, the German foreign aid organization, Kelly supports about 4500 peanut farmers in rural communities in Bolivia in the advancement and enhancement of their agricultural practices.
CSR practices at Kelly bring evident advantages. Company became one of the most successful Austrian snack producers in terms of quality and safety. Its premium brands Soletti and Kelly’s won hearts of millions of customers throughout Europe.
Kelly is aimed to get foothold in other markets as well as continue to determine the market growth in Austria. To achieve this goal, company first of all plans to increase the number of product formulae with only natural ingredients and increase the number of products in portfolio with reduced salt and fat content.
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska
Kelly GmbH website: http://www.kelly.at/
TÜV website: http://www.tuv.com/en/corporate/home.jsp
1. "CSR in Austria : recent developments, challenges and projects” by Birgit Műllegger
2. "Corporate Social Responsibility in Austria” by Dr.Alfred W.Strigl