Lobetaler Bio, a socially inclusive organic dairy product manufacturer & innovator, successfully develops new ecologically sustainable products and packaging.
Lobetaler Bio reconciles two main concerns in its social business model: First, the employment and support of handicapped people, and second the development and placement of new socially sustainable products in the competitive organic food market.
Before Lobetaler Bio started its operations, agriculture in Lobetal was conventional, the price of milk relatively low and agricultural enterprises hardly refined their produce or innovated production processes or packaging. As a consequence, Lobetaler Bio decided to help farms change to organic farming, produce and process organic dairy products and try to make products that were not yet available in the regional organic food market. Currently, Lobetaler Bio mainly produces yoghurt, but also Cream and sour cream are made in small quantities, as is Ayran. Since 2017 Lobetaler Bio also sells cottage cheese and cream cheese.
Sales markets do not only lie within the region of Brandenburg and neighbouring Berlin, a main consumer market for Lobetaler Bio, but also in Hamburg and Saxony. What is more, it is part of the self-image of the Lobetaler organic dairy product manufacturer that people with disabilities are frequently employed and involved in the entire production process according to their abilities. Thus, in 2018 26 people with different disabilities found a job at the dairy plant.
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Evidence of success
In 2018 Lobetaler Bio not only employed 26 people with disabilities. It has also developed a more sustainable yogurt cup, a "super mug", which is more stable than the conventional competition and has a decisive advantage: It consists of a mixture of plastic and talcum, so that plastics in the packaging could be reduced by 50 percent and CO2 emissions by about 30 percent.
Potential for learning or transfer
While Lobetaler Bio certainly is not the only enterprise to combine ecological and social aspects in its business model, the dairy plant’s efforts to reconcile these efforts with also bringing innovation to both products and packaging is rather unique. This requires a vision and a comprehensive understanding of the consumer market for sustainably produced goods, a credible and transparent supply chain and modus operandi as well as a suitable sales network and the determination to realise the production process in accordance to these core believes and despite of potential thresholds going hand in hand with this business model. The experience of and close cooperation with its umbrella organisation, the Hoffnungstaler Stiftung Lobetal, certainly helps in all of these aspects, in particular concerning the inclusion of people with disabilities.