HEINEKEN Hungária Breweries Ltd, a local subsidiary of HEINEKEN International, with its more than a century-old tradition in brewing and its excellent brands is a key player in the Hungarian beer market. In the course of its operations, the company focuses on sustainability, diversity, business values and it even helps to revive Hungarian hop growing traditions.
“For over 150 years, we’ve been passionate about making a positive impact on the world. We know that we can only thrive if our people, the planet, and the communities around us thrive. Our ‘Evergreen’ strategy has inspired us to innovate and collaborate, protect the environment, support local communities, and make a positive effect on our society.” As the Managing Director at Heineken Hungária, Nikos Zois explains to Diplomacy&Trade:
“We have realized quite some time ago that sustainable sourcing is one of the most important tools for achieving our goals of reducing carbon emissions by making our company and our products sustainable. I am proud to say that in line with the objectives of the ‘HEINEKEN Evergreen’ strategy, we globally have committed to make our entire value chain carbon-neutral by 2040. We have also set an intermediate commitment of a 30% absolute reduction by 2030, including a 100% reduction on production. By the end of 2020, 62% of our barley was from sustainable sources internationally. Our goal is to close the gap and reach 100% by 2030,” he adds.
For a more sustainable future
As one of the leading companies in the global brewing industry and the domestic economy, HEINEKEN is aware that its operations have a significant impact on the environment and society.
The Managing Director strongly believes that the company’s values are defined by the way they care for people and the planet. “The past few years have been challenging, but we have achieved outstanding results thanks to our colleagues, customers and suppliers who have been able to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances.”
At HEINEKEN Hungária, there is also an important ambition to remove plastic from its processes. The company has been gradually eliminating the use of PET packaging, saving the environment from 200 tons of plastic. For some boxed products, there has been a switch to the use of a high-wall tray without shrink film, saving tens of tons of plastic film every year and reducing packaging waste by the same amount. HEINEKEN Hungária stopped using PET bottles in 2021 and also concluded its Net Zero roadmap.
The cardboard trays used are made from 100% recycled paper, and the shrink wrap contains 50% recycled plastic. This milestone represents a significant step towards reducing the company’s carbon footprint and minimizing plastic waste and this initiative also aligns with its commitment to meeting the growing demands of environmentally conscious consumers. Other examples such as POS materials from recycled plastic, eco-friendly coolers for lower consumption, are clear signs that HEINEKEN is planning for long term.
“Furthermore, we have already introduced several measures to reduce our carbon footprint for example by using renewable materials in production, and are being prepared to contribute to a successful launch of DRS (deposit return system). Our ultimate goal is to create the synergies of environmental, and social agendas, with relevant initiatives, such as while being a producer, we can also bring awareness to the importance of responsible drinking, thus keeping our social impact as a priority and at the same time actively working towards a more sustainable future,” Nikos Zois highlights.
Nurturing hop growing traditions
In Hungary, hop growing has a long tradition but it has declined in recent decades. In order to revive this process, HEINEKEN initiated a project that became a symbol of value creation both from an agricultural and a social point of view.
“After recognizing the decline of this great tradition in Hungary, we joined forces with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid to launch – with support from the Ministry of Agriculture – a comprehensive initiative aimed at revitalizing this essential aspect of Hungary's agricultural heritage. Through this collaboration, we have embarked on a multi-faceted approach to support local communities and promote sustainable agriculture. Our project in the southern Hungarian village of Kastélyosdombó allows us to support homes and families in need while keeping alive the tradition of hop growing. The result of this fruitful partnership is a premium beer, Soproni 1895 made Hungarian hops brewed with the outstanding skills of Hungarian brewers,” the Managing Director points out.
No diversity without inclusion
HEINEKEN Hungária also participates in the campaign of the Hungarian Business Leaders Forum (HBLF) to promote diversity, focusing on inclusion as they believe that inclusion does not work without diversity. Nikos Zois is of the view that “inclusion is when everyone feels that they can be themselves and are being heard and valued. It is best reinforced by the practice of treating different people differently, that we identify as equity. This, above all requires leadership by example so that it can be well-integrated into the organization.”
In addition, a wide range of measures are in place to support inclusion in the operation. “The fact that we have different networks will allow us to reach a much broader audience and we can inspire more people to move in this direction. Also, at HEINEKEN Hungary, the ratio of women in our management team is 50%. If you wear the right glasses, you will definitely find enough female candidates for all positions. On top of corporate events, we also plan to bring our HR communities together to move even faster. Even though at HEINEKEN we are in good shape in terms of gender diversity, we are moving further to more dimensions of diversity, for example in the areas of cultural background and origin,” he adds.
Dutch business values
As HEINEKEN is a global brewing company, HEINEKEN Hungária also applies important business values in its daily operation. The Managing Director stresses that these values form the foundation of our corporate culture and guide us in achieving our mission and vision. “They include, for example, always keeping our passion for our consumers and customers, the courage to pioneer, and the enjoyment of life itself. By integrating these values into our behaviors and the daily operations with positive impact, HEINEKEN Hungária aims to uphold the legacy of the HEINEKEN brand while adapting to the unique needs of the Hungarian market. We are committed to staying a player in the Hungarian market with positive impact, while remaining true to the core values that have made our businesses renowned worldwide.”
Bright path ahead
Nikos Zois has been at the helm of HEINEKEN Hungária for close to two years now and he says this tenure has been a gratifying experience. “I am deeply fond of Hungary and the culture, and with enthusiasm, I can say that the future looks promising for both the company and myself. Our achievements have been remarkable and we are optimistic about the bright path ahead, focused on sustainability and delivering value to our customers, consumers and communities. Also, I tend to say, that I’m becoming more and more attached to the people here and say that I’m Greek by origin, and Hungarian by choice :)”
He concludes that despite the challenging times that the whole world is in and the drop of consumption, “we have managed to have a solid financial performance while we are setting up HEINEKEN Hungária for a future success delivering to all of our commitments.”
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