Foyle Food Group embarked on its sustainability journey at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Foyle Food Group is a family-owned business with over 40 years of expertise within the beef industry, with five sites across Northern Ireland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It is dedicated to improving and developing for its employees and the communities .
What Foyle Food Group did
Foyle Food Group embarked on its sustainability journey at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown. ‘Shaping our Future 2020/2025’ is its roadmap across the four pillars of Pasture, Product, Planet and People.
It is the first privately owned company in Northern Ireland to sign up to the Science Based Targets initiative.
Foyle had a target of operating as a sustainable business, one which has a purpose beyond profit, which gives equal priority to reducing negative impacts on the environment, and that increases the positive impact it makes on society.
A key area in achieving this has been communication, and Foyle worked with BITC to make connections with fellow Northern Ireland companies who had a strong communication platform. From this came ‘Foyle Connect’, a communication app which will be launched in July 2022 that allows Foyle to share business news and updates and allows employees to access information and contact internal systems directly. The app will also be used to share policies such as community engagement and sustainability plans, and promote health and wellbeing.
Foyle is passionate about supporting local charities. Each of its sites selects a dedicated charity to fundraise for, and since September 2021 has completed several fundraising events, including a BBQ which raised £80,000 for Air Ambulance NI.
Foyle established a sustainability structure in 2020 based on: Pasture (Procurement Director) – the support to producers; Product (Commercial Director) – responsible sourcing through product innovation and food safety; Planet (Operations Director) – dedicating resource to environmental conservations; People (CEO) – promoting positive changes to people and communities. CEO, Terry Acheson oversees this strategy and its execution.
Foyle has a number of responsible policies it adheres to, including ethical trading, energy and environment, and responsible sourcing. It is signatory to a number of sustainability focus groups and a member of a number of community and sustainability organisations. Foyle engages with each of its stakeholders through quarterly reports which are presented to all staff, and shares annual sustainability reports with customers and suppliers.
During COVID and faced with difficulties in fundraising, Foyle asked sites to choice local charities that mattered to them and raised a combined £5,000 for these local charities in five months.
Other initiatives include: employees supporting local communities through litter picking; working closely with the Young Farmers Clubs and Farm Business Groups, as well as welcoming clubs from across Northern Ireland to Foyle sites to educate them on the farm-to-fork process; being founding member of BITC’s Ban the Box, which aims to give people with criminal convictions a fairer chance at gaining employment.
Benefits and Outcomes
- Foyle is one of the biggest private sector employers in Northern Ireland and is ranked in the Belfast Telegraph top 5 of Northern Irish companies
- Cost control on energy allows for reinvestment into business to further improve operations
- Awarded Platinum for the Business in the Community Environmental Survey two years in a row
- Over 200 employees gaining recognised qualifications and learning new skills as they work
- Staff benefit from additional training in Carbon Literacy and Mental Health First Aid, and given the option of Cycle to Work Schemes and Health and Wellbeing programmes
- Regular support provided for local food banks
What the judges said
“In a really challenging economic environment Foyle Group gave an excellent account of how it is going above and beyond to be a responsible business giving back to staff, customers, suppliers, and the wider community. From engaging with farmers on scope 3 emissions and biodiversity enhancements, looking at new and innovative ways to keep their team engaged and informed, through to their inspiring fundraising and charitable schemes, their CSR strategy came across as well structured and driven by the leadership team.”