“Sustainability to the Steele Family and Silver Hill Farm has always been of the upmost importance and we are very proud of our track record in this area.
Becoming involved with the Origin Green project was a natural progression for us and we look forward to sharing the aims and endeavours of this very worthwhile exercise with our customers.
Ireland has been at the forefront in producing quality food for decades, so this is just another example of our leading food producers once again raising the bar.”
Stewart Steele, Silver Hill Foods
- Key targets surpassed on completion of first Origin Green plan 2013 – 2016
- 19% reduction in energy use achieved in 2016 from year-earlier figure
- 15% reduction in well water usage by 2021 per tonne of product output
Silver Hill Foods was established in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan in 1962 by Ronnie and Lyla Steele.
Silver Hill Foods is a fully integrated duck producing company that bases its success on a distinctive hybrid duck developed for flavour, succulence and consistency. All aspects of duck production are owned and controlled by the company, which exports 70% of output to 24 countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, UAE and Singapore. Asian markets are seen to offer a particular opportunity for growth in the years ahead. Recent expansion has been reflected in the creation of 52 new jobs since 2013, bringing employment to 230 in 2016. In addition, 21 new contract growers have been added across eight counties.
Silver Hill Foods opened a €3m state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence 2016 in support of further export growth. The company has won many food awards over the years, as well as qualifying for the Deloitte Best Managed Company award seven years running.
Silver Hill Food’s believe in the importance of protecting the environment. Through Origin Green the company has adopted innovative and proactive measures to reduce their impact and include sustainable targets in their production. These include the recycling of duck feathers to make premium duvets and pillows; use of bulk offal in the pet food industry; conversion of duck fat into biodiesel; and use of slurry as an organic fertilizer. The company purchases 100% renewable energy, and is a member of Repak, the Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) and the Poultry Products Quality Assurance Scheme.
As a founding member of Origin Green, Silver Hill Foods’ first Origin Green Sustainability Plan ran between 2013 and 2016, taking 2012 as the baseline year. Highlights include:
- Surpassing the target of having over 25% of suppliers hold recognised certifications;
- Surpassing the goal of a 10% reduction in electricity usage in the hatchery per unit of output by the end of 2015 (a reduction of 19.3% was achieved);
- Surpassing the original target of a 10% reduction in water consumption (an overall reduction of 11.71% was achieved).
Origin Green in action
Silver Hill Foods sees membership of Origin Green as offering an excellent way to communicate its commitment to sustainability to customers and suppliers. Participation has also opened up the possibility of entering new markets, as the Origin Green message has drawn the attention of senior buyers around the world. Silver Hill Foods’ targets for its Origin Green plan 2016-2021 will build on the achievements of the previous plan with actions in the areas of raw material sourcing; manufacturing; and social sustainability.
In raw material sourcing, the company will maintain a 25% level of suppliers with appropriate environmental/sustainable certifications, and will scope potential sustainability initiatives for outside growers. In 2016, results from a 2015 questionnaire indicated a 60% rate of supplier certification.
In the area of manufacturing, company targets included maintaining 2015 energy usage levels in 2016. However, data from 2016 showed that the company actually achieved a 19% reduction in energy use over the period. In 2017, use of energy efficient LED lighting will be considered to further support energy reductions.
Further manufacturing targets include a reduction of 15% in well water usage by 2021 per tonne of total product output (from 2015 baseline); maintaining 100% use of slurry as organic fertiliser; and an increase in recycling of general waste in 2017 and 2018 to 20%.
The company has also set and achieved targets in biodiversity, including the planting of trees around the manure storage tanks and the creation of a wild flower area.
Silver Hill Foods has sponsored local sporting clubs and charities for a number of years and in its second Origin Green plan sets a specific annual budget of €4,000 for these activities.
The company considers all aspects of health and nutrition in its NPD process, taking into account levels of sugar, salt and artificial ingredients. It currently strives to achieve the FSA 2012 Salt Targets for all its products, with salt levels reduced by 15% by end of 2016 from the 2015 figure
In 2016 the company moved into new energy efficient offices following the completion of it Centre of Excellence. A new heat recovery system allowed heat recovered from the refrigeration system to be used to pre-heat water for the office buildings and the factory. In 2016, this resulted in a 19% reduction in energy use from the year earlier figure.