Dr. Oetker Stories

“We are changing for the better: for people and the environment“

In our Dr. Oetker Sustainability Report "Building a Sustainable Home," we demonstrate our commitment to products, the environment, society and employees. Claudia Willvonseder explains how Dr. Oetker reaches its goals.

“We are changing for the better: for people and the environment“

4.7.2023 Sustainability

Why investing in sustainability is the only way forward for sustainable companies. And how Dr. Oetker wants to go down this path. An interview with Claudia Willvonseder, Member of the Executive Board (Marketing, Research and Development, Sustainability, Global Data Management).

Claudia Willvonseder with a Dr. Oetker Löffelglück Pudding

Human-induced climate change increases extreme weather events such as severe storms, floods, forest fires and prolonged droughts. This has extensive effects: Famine, water scarcity, spread of pests and pathogens, and loss of biodiversity are just a few.

Claudia Willvonseder: “These environmental threats will, above all, increasingly have a direct and indirect impact on social issues as well. In 2050, around ten billion people worldwide will need to be fed, which collides with a decreasing supply of natural resources. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world still has the same access to food: on the contrary, according to the World Food Program of the United Nations more than 800 million people in the world go to bed hungry, 45 million of them are at acute risk of famine. At the same time, 53 % of all Europeans were considered overweight in 2019, 74 % in the US.⁶ As a company, we must act responsibly and help to minimize this imbalance.”*

However, the food system is one of the biggest causes of environmental damage and health problems: About a third of CO₂ emissions can be traced back to the food industry. Progressive agriculture has reduced biodiversity and soil health, and an unhealthy diet is a major cause of disease.

Claudia Willvonseder: “The food industry bears a great responsibility – and has a major potential impact on positive change. Let’s change our perspective momentarily: Our nutrition is the greatest lever for positively influencing people’s and the environment’s health. Dr. Oetker products are used in approximately 175 million households worldwide, with an average of 2.5 people living in each household. That means we influence the way of life of approximately 440 million people** around the world. Which means that we are invited and challenged to make our contribution to a balanced, sustainably produced diet.”

What does that mean in concrete terms?

Claudia Willvonseder: “As a company, we have the potential to empower millions of people to live a more balanced, sustainable lifestyle. We are already using our influence to bring more plant-based raw materials into recipes, to rely less on meat, and to use raw materials that are produced in a sustainable way. For example, we have greatly expanded our range of vegan products - people do not have to do without their usual delicious products such as pizzas and desserts, but can eat a plant-based diet. We are also beginning to communicate the CO₂ footprint of our products. Our consumers can only make good decisions about the climate if they have the information to help them choose. We aim to reduce CO₂ emissions by 35 % by 2030, and ultimately be climate neutral by 2050. That requires many different measures, which we’re now defining. Every step counts. But fortunately, we are not alone ...”

What do you mean by that?

Claudia Willvonseder: “Everyone is involved: politics, companies, but also each and every one of us. Legislation and regulations demand changes – in more and more countries. Examples such as the Spanish climate change law, the advertising ban on junk food in England or EU regulations such as the ban on single-use plastic are setting an example. They will undoubtedly become more common in the coming years. I think it is good and right that it is happening, because it creates a level playing field and it accelerates and unites the path we must all walk together. As Dr. Oetker, we see it as our obligation to invest in sustainability to preserve or improve the world for future generations.”

You also spoke about each individual. How do our consumers see this?

Claudia Willvonseder: “More and more people are aware that our current collective lifestyle is about to destroy the sensitive balance on our planet. Consumers’ attitudes have also changed: 49 % have changed their diet to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle in the last two years. In the same period, 63 % globally have taken initial steps to minimize their environmental footprint.*** People quite rightly expect companies to actively help solve climate problems.”

Dr. Oetker is a strong umbrella brand which has been around for over 130 years. So, how do these changes affect the brand?

Claudia Willvonseder: “The topic of quality is taking on a new meaning: In the future, our consumers will not only be able to continue to rely on our unique product quality, but also on the quality and reliability with which we as a brand and company assume further responsibility. Through our products, we promise more sustainable enjoyment - enabling people to take small steps toward a better, more sustainable planet. I am very pleased to continue this step with our 130-year-old brand.”

Does that mean that Dr. Oetker has set the right course?

Claudia Willvonseder: “Yes, I am convinced. Imagine a pizza of the future - made by Dr. Oetker. The recipe of this pizza is based on a more balanced health concept, with many delicious vegetarian or vegan ingredients. These come from regenerative agriculture and are therefore climate-positive, deforestation-free and have been sustainably cultivated. The packaging is made from 100 % recycled material; there is no food waste in production. All the people in the supply chain who worked on this pizza - from growing the ingredients to selling it - were paid fairly and were not at risk of human rights abuses. That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? And that’s exactly what we can achieve if we – as planned – consistently develop further and implement our Sustainability Charter together with our many partners.”

Dr. Oetker pizza of the future

*Source: OECD, Eurostat
⁠**Source: see page 4 in the Dr. Oetker
Sustainability Report "Building a Sustainable Home".
⁠***Sources: FMCG Gurus Top 10 Trends for 2022 Report, Sustainability 2022 Report.