The last VAFO Group board meeting of 2022 was held in October. The main topics were an assessment of this year and a presentation of plans and anticipated trends for 2023. This was the first board meeting not to be organized at the company’s headquarters in Chrášťany; instead, it was held in Finland under the direction of Prima Pet Premium Oy, a VAFO Group company and leader of the Finnish market. A new dry food factory is nearing completion in the land of a thousand lakes, and it is scheduled to come online in the beginning of 2023. The new factory will produce 20 thousand tons of pet food annually and will thus be the largest pet food factory in Finland. At the same time, it will be the new home of the local brand Hau-Hau Champion, the top (and 100% climate-neutral) pet food brand on the Finnish market. The CEOs also confirmed growth across all segments as well as fulfilment of the sustainability strategy that VAFO introduced at the beginning of this year.
We have been fulfilling our commitments to maintain maximum sustainability in our products for a long time now, and this year we succeeded in using recyclable packaging materials for 70% of the products in our portfolio. Likewise, we continue to use more and more sustainable ingredients (an increase of 12% in 2022), and we now have two carbon-neutral foods, Hau-Hau Champion and Planet Pet Society, both of which use revolutionary second-chance ingredients.
At the start of next year, the flagship of the Brit Care brand will be expanded with a sustainable line called Brit Care Sustainable. The new pet food line comes in response to a trend we have been following for some time now. Pet owners have shown an increased interest not only in the benefits of the foods they feed their animals but also in how environmentally friendly those foods are. The superpremium Brit Care Sustainable line is a response to the latest trends and the popularity of pet foods that do not burden the planet. For 2023, we are also planning to install new solar panels at our factories in Poland and Číčenice in order to meet our commitment to cover at least 25% of our energy needs from renewable resources and transition the remainder of our products to recyclable packaging.
In addition to discussions focusing on this year and forecasts for the one ahead, the VAFO representatives were invited to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Helsinki. With the Czech ambassador, Adam Vojtěch, in attendance, VAFO was presented as one of two of the largest Czech entities in this northern country.
Also on the board meeting agenda was the current state of affairs in the world, which is having both an economical and a human impact on all of us. Specifically, this has to do with the increase in energy prices and the volatile gas situation, which in turn has led to increases in the prices of ingredients. We are doing everything in our power to adapt to the situation and respond to changes quickly and flexibly.