Impact through innovation: Sustainability is our business

CMD Sustainability

On 9 December, Marel hosted its Sustainability Capital Markets Day 360° virtual event where Arni Oddur Thordarson, CEO of Marel, Thorsteinn Kari Jonsson, Director of Sustainability and Community Engagement, and guest speaker Greta Maria Gretarsdottir, Managing Director of Innovation, CSR and IR at Brim, spoke to Marel’s brave vision for the industry’s sustainable future. Anna Kristin Palsdottir, EVP of Innovation, joined the panel for a lively Q&A. They addressed the myriad ways in which innovation in Marel’s hardware and software offerings, as well as new ways of working on a local level while offering remote service, continue to revolutionize the food processing industry from the inside out.

Bringing breakthrough innovations that support net-zero commitments

Marel is leading the food processing industry into a new era of sustainable practices through its end-to-end hardware and digital solutions, which are architected to ensure safe and nutritious food that is produced in a sustainable way. The need for automation and digital solutions in the food value chain isn’t slowing down, and, in recent years, the focus on minimizing human intervention to improve hygiene while increasing traceability through digital solutions has burgeoned. 

“The momentum is strong in the sustainability journey and many of our most forward thinking customers are embarking on their net-zero commitments. Marel is in a unique position to support our customers in that journey. From day one we have focused on solutions that improve yield, reduce waste, limit use of resources such as water and energy and improve operational excellence,“ said Arni Oddur Thordarson, CEO of Marel. “Digital solutions and greater connectivity also have the potential to bolster the sustainability journeys of customers by supporting demand-driven value chains. Access to real-time and historic data insights enables customers to make optimal operational decisions and, no less importantly, collect data for green reporting and financing.” 

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Arni At Marel CMD Sustainability

Marel as an enabler for our customers‘ sustainability journeys

In 2020 alone, more than 1,000 Marel innovation experts collaborated with our partners to bring over 30 breakthrough innovations to market, all of which are designed to maximize yields while minimizing waste and use of valuable resources, including raw materials, water and energy. These measures make a positive impact on more sustainable food production with every cut, every gram.

During her talk, Greta Maria Gretarsdottir Managing Director of Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Investor Relations for Brim, one of Iceland’s largest seafood producers noted, “through Marel’s automated, innovative and data-driven solutions, the opportunity to increase product value, significantly reduce food waste and move towards a more demand-driven production in the fish industry is well within our reach.“

“From the beginning of this journey, we knew we wanted to finance the new technology with green and blue bonds to further contribute towards sustainable development at a local and global level, and Marel supported us in that journey,” according to Greta Maria.

And the partnership is not one-sided, but rather multifaceted: Marel and Brim collaborate, sharing valuable information that “moves the innovation of the fish processing industry forward,” Greta Maria added. 

“Marel and Brim have had a trusted and fruitful partnership for decades,” she went on. “The FleXicut is a prime example of a Marel solution that has significantly increased raw material utilization in our production. By using X-ray vision to optimize raw material and accurately cut with water jets that use just one tablespoon of water per fillet, the FleXicut has increased our high-value product ratio.“ Today, through its work with Marel, Brim’s groundfish processing plant is one of the most advanced in the world.  “We are utilizing 100% of each fish that we catch,” Greta concluded.

Greta At Marel CMD Sustainability

Marel announces ambitious sustainability program to be rolled out in 2022

The growing world population, fast-changing consumer behavior, and a rising focus on sustainability and legislative compliance, mean that demands on the food processing industry are constantly evolving.  

To respond to these challenges, Marel CEO Arni Oddur Thordarson announced that in January 2022 Marel will roll out a five-year program aimed at steering both Marel and the industry onto a more sustainable path. During his talk, Arni Oddur highlighted Marel’s ambitious environmental, social, and governance targets, all of which culminate in net-zero emissions by 2040:

By 2026, Marel has set the following environmental targets:

  • Reduce carbon emissions by 20%
  • Increase recycling of waste to 90%
  • Power more than 85% of its manufacturing facilities with renewable energy

“We know that, in order to thrive, we must focus as much on the people and planet as we do on our profits. This program is designed to address the most important environmental, social, and governance related issues. We are setting clear and ambitious targets that focus on both our own operations and on the positive impact we can have on those of our customers across the value chain,” he added.

Marel CMD Sustainability Event

Countdown to net-zero emissions by 2040

In its net-zero commitment, Marel leads by example. In 2020 alone, Marel lowered its own overall footprint of emissions by 41% from 2019 levels. With further development of a hybrid offering—where remote support meets digital platform, and local service hinges on experts in every region—Marel intends to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2040.

The “new normal” has had a positive impact on Marel's carbon footprint. Sales and marketing, installations, aftermarket services, and customer training have increasingly moved online, and Marel has significantly scaled back travel. 

“We have significantly reduced the carbon footprint with reduced fly-in and fly-out of sales and service experts by focusing on engaging with our customers through local teams on daily basis. We are further leveraging this with an increase of 30% of direct sales and service teams outside of US and Europe in recent 18 months,”,” Arni Oddur Thordarson elaborated.

Marel CMD Sustainability

Marel’s sustainability roadmap: driven by innovation

“In 2019, we reached out to over 160 stakeholders—including suppliers, innovation partners and other key stakeholders, to get their input for our sustainability roadmap. Everything we do is in alignment with our roadmap and elevating sustainability performance,” said Thorsteinn Kari Jonsson Director of Sustainability and Community Engagement at Marel. 

At Marel, developing digital technologies was a strategic objective in our service offering even before the pandemic hit. Marel has now accelerated many of its plans for increasing remote support using augmented reality, online demos, and online training. And the new digital solutions will go a step further, where real-time insights will enable predictive maintenance and reduce the fly-in fly-out of our service engineers, and thus reducing our own carbon footprint.  

Thorsteinn At Marel CMD Sustainability

During the Q&A, Anna Kristin Palsdottir, EVP of Innovation at Marel, spoke to Marel’s use of the transformative technology of extended reality. “It is critical for us to innovate in a smart way. We can design and test new solutions in virtual reality—even physical solutions—without using steel, without using any physical resources. This shortens time to success and reduces emissions and waste,” she said.

“Through Marel’s automated, innovative and data-driven solutions, the opportunity to increase product value, significantly reduce food waste and move towards a more demand-driven production in the fish industry is well within our reach,” said  Greta Maria Gretarsdottir Managing Director of Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Investor Relations for Brim, one of Iceland’s largest seafood producers.

Anna At Marel CMD Sustainability

Join us for our Capital Markets Day 360° mini-series to learn more

The 360° Capital Markets Day mini-series consists of five events; a virtual site visit to Marel in Iceland and four thematic sessions centered on key features of Marel’s unique equity story and the future of food processing: growth, global reach, digitalization and sustainability.

Watch on-demand recordings of past 360° CMD virtual events:



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