sustainability report Darta 2024

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Nourishing planet, people, partnership

Sustainability report 2023


From field to fork Strategy

Welcome to the world of Darta

When two Belgian families, Talpe and De Backere, founded Darta in 1988, their goal was to produce fresh frozen products from nearby harvested crops within the shortest timeframe possible.

Since then, the families’ second generation has widely extended the scope of the company while remaining true to the original ambition of its founders. 35 years later, Darta produces a broad variety of fresh frozen products at five locations in Europe close to its growers and distributes them to customers in more than 65 countries.


reflect with pride on 35 years of Darta. With mutual respect, we have built the company from the ground up. Thanks to good communication and complementarity, Darta has grown into the success story it is today, with the company thriving and our sons working well together."

Anniversary Darta celebrates its 35th anniversary

In 1988, Johan Talpe and Jean-Pierre De Backere realized their long-standing dream of starting their own business. Together, they established Darta, a name derived from De Backere, Ardooie, and Talpe. In 1989, the first frozen vegetables rolled off the production line.

In 2023, we marked Darta's 35th anniversary, an important milestone in our journey of freezing vegetables and fostering close collaboration. To celebrate, we organized a festive family day in Belgium, treating 400 colleagues and their families to sweets and providing them with a unique tour of the Darta factory. In addition, our colleagues at international locations received a surprise to commemorate our company’s 35 years.


From field to fork

Figures we are proud of  2


 production volume



19 % RETAIL EU + UK coins




EU + UK coins

5 % INDUSTRY EU + UK coins

Belgium map 32.3 ha

 122,500 tonnes

 440 employees

Portugal map 11.5 ha

 30,700 tonnes

 250 employees

UK map 5.06 ha

 20,100 tonnes

 30 employees

Italy map 11 ha

 33,700 tonnes

 240 employees

Sicily map 1 ha

 2,100 tonnes

 50 employees


Naturally green

Our sustainability strategy covers the 4 P's


— Limiting and compensating our carbon footprint



We aim to continuously reduce the environmental impact of our activities by keeping a healthy balance between the environment, technological possibilities and economic interests.

— Reducing our environmental footprint

Fulfilling 50% of our energy demand with on-site produced renewable energy by 2035


We want to make sure that our consumers receive highquality, safe, healthy, and authentic products at all times.


We are committed to creating a healthy, engaging, and safe working environment. Through recognition, team spirit, and a pleasant working atmosphere, we create opportunities for personal development and growth.

Safe and healthy food products

— Open to diversity

— Team Darta goes international

— Safe and healthy working environment


At Darta, we believe sustainable development can only be achieved through strong long-lasting partnerships and close cooperation with all stakeholders (growers, suppliers, third parties).

Close relationship with our growers

Local sourcing



Darta Yorkshire extends carbon neutrality from field to fork

In a strategic partnership with GWE Biogas and the Swaythorpe Growers, Darta operates its own production facility in Driffield (UK) since 2018. This site, located in Yorkshire county, processes peas grown in the region by the Swaythorpe Growers cooperative, which groups more than 60 local farmers.

All the power necessary to run the facility is supplied by its neighbour GWE Biogas, which in turn collects all wastewater and vegetable waste produced by the plant to convert it into renewable energy through anaerobic digestion. In this way, Darta Yorkshire consumes 100% green electricity. By producing our own green energy, we avoid the emission of 1,000 tonnes of CO2. In addition, as the biogas facility converts on-site collected organic waste into energy, we are able to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be transported to external waste processing facilities, thus saving another 54 tonnes of CO2. By supporting a wind power offset project in Mauritania, we have achieved carbon neutrality at the local company level.

Building on this positive result, we are proud to announce that, since 2021, Darta Yorkshire is also carbon neutral at the product level for our peas across their full product life cycle - from planting the seeds, through harvesting, transport to our factory, production processes, and even the recycling of waste. In addition to further improvements in energy efficiency, such as through optimized transportation, we compensate for our climate footprint by supporting a certified wind energy initiative in Mauritania.

ISO 14001

The international ISO 14001 standard evaluates a company’s environmental management system. In Portugal, Belgium and Italy we obtained this certification in 2012, 2016 and 2017 respectively and since 2023, we also hold this certification in Darta Yorkshire. This clearly confirms our commitment to sustainable entrepreneurship.


Recycling and reusing water

Freshwater sources are running out. That is why we aim to reduce the consumption of intake water/tonne at our various sites, as well as to increase the water reuse percentage. In our plants in Belgium, Portugal, and the UK, all process wastewater is treated to be reused as washing water and even treated up to drinking water quality through ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. Also, rainwater is collected from our lagunes and purified in the ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis unit and reused in our production facility.

First and modern water treatment plant will be operational in 2025

7 % reused water (2012 reference year) 2012 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 Belgium 48.87 45.54 49.89 50.95 46.73 53.26 Portugal 0 11.02 5.39 7.60 9.26 15.39 UK
wastewater is
in the
used as circular water
biogas plant
Sicily 0 0 0 0 0

Visual water flow Belgium and Portugal

Give back to nature

1 The fully grown and ripe vegetables are harvested and delivered to the Darta factory.

2 The vegetables are washed in internal recycled water to be processed to frozen products.

3 The solar panels on the roof generate renewable energy for our production process.

4 All waste-water is treated to be re-used as washing water and even treated up to drinking water quality by ultra filtration and reserved osmosis.

5 Rain water is collected from the roofs and purified with the ultra-filtration and reversed osmosis unit and re-used in our production facility.

6 The bypass streams of production are 100% recycled as animal feed.

7 The residues from the waste water plant are rich in phosphate, nitrogen and potassium, and are the perfect ‘organic fertilizer’ for fields or other crops.

8 The waste water plant creates ‘bio gas’, which gives back energy to the waste water plant.

8 6 1 2 5 3 7 8 4 PRODUCTION PROCESS TO FINISHED PRODUCT UF = ultra filtration RO = reversed osmosis *since 2016 *

Producing sustainable energy on site


After investing heavily in additional packaging and cold (-20°) store capacity in Belgium, UK and Portugal, we enhanced the energy independency of our plants by increasing the on-site production of green electricity.


Solar panels power the Darta production sites in Belgium, Portugal, and Italy.

In 2023, Darta expanded its solar panel capacity in Belgium with 2.75 MWp to reach a total of 9.37 MWp generating a total of 5,820 MWh. In Portugal, we expanded our solar capacity with 350 kWp through the installation of solar canopies on our parking lots. This project offers a series of advantages: making use of land that is already cleared, producing electricity close to those who need it, and shading cars and protecting the drivers against the sun. In 2023, we also invested in an additional 1 MWp of solar panels on land.


In October 2022, the wind turbine at Darta Belgium, which is jointly operated with Aspiravi, became fully operational. The 3.6 MW wind turbine generated in 2023 11,066 MWh green electricity/year, covering 13% of the site’s electricity demand. Our target was to fulfil 25% of our site’s energy demand with on-site produced green electricity by 2025, but we have already achieved this objective in 2023.

As a side product of its operation, our Belgian water treatment plant creates ‘biogas’. We invested in machinery to recuperate this gas and, as of 2024, we will purify the biogas and use it as an energy source instead of natural gas in one of the steam boilers in the factory. 6,000 MWh of biogas will be purified and as a result, we will reduce gas consumption by 20%.

Since 2012, growth and increasing automation doubled our carbon footprint. Through continuous investments in renewable energy (solar, wind, biogas, waste), we were able to keep the CO2 impact relative to volumes sold under control for the last 10 years. Since 2021 we even started to reduce the CO² intensity.

CO2 intensity scope 1+2 Darta group (tonnes CO2 /tonnes sales) (2012: reference year) 0,00 0,05 0,10 0,15 0,20 2012 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 % renewable energy (calculated in GJ renewable / GJ total) (2012: reference year) 2012 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 % 20122023 Target Belgium 4.70 6.36 6.20 5.85 9.91 21.44 + 17.33% We aim for 50% renewable energy production by 2035 Portugal 1.80 1.50 6.20 6.71 5.83 5.90 + 4.10% UK / 60.90 78.08 79.55 81.42 81.76 Italy & Sicily / 0 0 0 0 0 0 Total Darta 4.25 4.72 4.48 5.28 7.84 15.36 +11.28%
- 18.3% 0.171 0.171 0.179 0.170 0.148 0.140


Darta Cuisin'easy plant-based range

At Darta, we have a vast range of more than 2,000 products, available under our own brand or in private label. Our core business is processing and selling fresh frozen vegetables, of which the most common are peas, cabbage, beans, carrots, and broccoli. We also offer vegetable preparations - with legumes, grains, rice, or pasta - and vegetable snacks, as well as a wide range of herbs and fruits.

Our innovation and expertise can be found in our convenience products. With Darta Cuisin’easy we have developed a premium range of different cold salads, ready-to-serve and with an unrivalled culinary finishing. This range offers a solution to the increasing time pressure that every chef in the kitchen experiences, to serve dishes with a high culinary finish and based on healthy, tasty, high-quality ingredients. Our products also serve as a valuable alternative to fresh products, eliminating waste in the kitchen. The chef only needs to defrost the salads, and they are ready for use.

Darta Cuisin’easy has been developed to meet the increasing awareness of consumers to choose healthy, plant-based products that are also tasty. A diet without animal foods results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than the average diet containing meat and dairy. Most of our Darta Cuisin'easy recipes are now also suitable for



Engaging our employees

Determining whether our employees are happy, satisfied, and loyal to their workplace is crucial to our organization. That is why we want to keep our finger on the pulse of employee engagement. Measuring the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) annually is one of the most

NPS score 2023

effective metrics for gaining insight into our employees’ feelings and opinions. It measures how willing our employees are to recommend their workplace to their family or friends.

Not representative due to low response

468 54 POINTS

An eNPS can range from -100 to 100. Anything above zero is acceptable. In general, a score of 10-30 is considered good, and a score of 54, which is the case for Darta, is excellent. Using the eNPS as the core of our engagement evaluation gives us a solid basis for understanding employee loyalty, and helps strategically improve our retention rate.

WEIGHTED AVERAGE NPS Darta 207 24.40 Darta Abruzzo 132 15.60 Darta Italia 17 1.30 Darta Alentejo 87 9.10 Darta Yorkshire 25 3.60 Darta Sicilia

Team Darta goes international

Darta is a fast-growing family business, where atmosphere and collegiality are important.

To ensure these ingredients are nourished at all time, we started Team Darta, which groups all types of initiatives from Sport@work (cycling, jogging, walking) and Fun@work (Easter surprise, Darta Day) to Health@work (from tasting our own products at the food truck to participating in health-promoting activities, such as stop-smoking coaching).

Team Darta is an international initiative. All our colleagues throughout the Group receive a surprise gift at Easter and for Darta Day. During Christmas time, everyone throughout the Group takes a photo with their ’ugly’ Christmas sweater. In 2023, we also launched a summer challenge and a 30-day challenge across all sites. During the summer challenge, our employees had to bike, run, walk, or move along a route in the shape of a carrot. From the top 5 submissions, a winner was selected through a poll on Facebook. During the 30-day challenge, our colleagues were challenged to perform a small daily task that contributed to their well-being, health, and happiness. For example, they were challenged to drink 2 liters of water or to eat lunch outdoors.

Internal communication

We do not only employ a balanced mixture of cultures, we also have more than 20 mother tongues among our employees. To facilitate internal communication, also for non-native speakers, a new internal communication plan was drawn up. Darta offers multilingual e-learning options during the employee onboarding process. The principles taught in these e-learning sessions are reinforced each month through themes displayed on cafeteria screens, notice boards, and within the Darta app. Additionally, we place a strong emphasis on ongoing internal training sessions, including Dutch language courses, forklift certification, first aid, and more.

Sustainable mobility

As part of our sustainable mobility policy, we offer our colleagues alternative mobility solutions. An e-bike or speedelec is a sporty and healthy option to come to work, which is now supported by Darta through a bike leasing program.

Also, electric cars are becoming increasingly popular at Darta. Since 2023, all new lease vehicles are fully electric



Partnering with farmer cooperatives in Italy and the UK

In Italy, seven agricultural cooperatives joined the Marsicana Association of Potato Producers in 1989, with the aim of offering genuine and 100% Italian frozen foods to the general public. Today Darta Abruzzo (Covalpa) boasts 150 producer members, grouped into 2 cooperatives, located in the Fucino plain in Abruzzo. Thanks to the commitment made every day by certified farmers, quality vegetables are grown and harvested, carefully selected and processed in our factory.

In the UK, the Swaythorpe Growers cooperative, which groups more than 60 local farmers, co-invested in Darta Yorkshire. This is a perfect example of the long-term strategic partnership we have with our growers.

Business ethics throughout the supply chain

Customers around the world expect the different actors in the food supply chain to work ethically. At Darta, we have committed ourselves to 100% transparency. Since 2010, we are a member of Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX), a non-profit membership organization that houses the world’s largest collaborative platform for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains. It enables us, as a member, to manage our performance regarding labour rights, health & safety, the environment, and business ethics. This information is made available to customers through the SEDEX network, giving them a clear view on our ethical performance.

An eNPS can range from -100 to 100. Anything above zero is acceptable. In general, a score of 10-30 is considered good, and a score of54, which is the case for Darta, is excellent.

Using the eNPS as the core of our engagement evaluation gives us a solid basis for understanding employee loyalty, and helps strategically improve our retention rate.

core of our engagement evaluation gives us a solid basis for understanding employee loyalty, and helps strategically improve our retention rate.

Selection of certified partners

At Darta, we go all in on quality. That is why we only work with certified growers: Vegaplan in Belgium, Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) in France, and Red Tractor in the UK. These standards for good agricultural practice are external independent and objective certifications that ensure the safety and quality of our raw material supply.

On top of that, our agronomists subject our growers to additional internal audits (yield, quality, communication, etc.) and give a score that is evaluated afterwards. Based on the result, we initiate corrective measures and organize regular follow-up meetings to ensure top quality at all time.

An eNPS can range from -100 to 100. Anything above zero is acceptable. In general, a score of 10-30 is considered good, and a score of54, which is the case for Darta, is excellent.

Using the eNPS as the core of our engagement evaluation gives us a solid basis for understanding employee loyalty, and helps strategically improve our retention rate.

core of our engagement evaluation gives us a solid basis for understanding employee loyalty, and helps strategically improve our retention rate.
Head Office & Main Production Site Pittemsestraat 58 A, 8850 Ardooie, Belgium T +32 (0)51 82 30 00 |
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