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FAQs

What are the key areas that make up ABF?

Our business is split into five segments: Sugar; Agriculture; Retail; Grocery; Ingredients.

Sugar comprises our sugar processing business, based in Europe, Africa & China. AB Sugar is one of the largest sugar producers in the world.

Agriculture operates extensive international agribusiness operations delivering products, technology and services to the food, drink and animal feed sectors.

The Retail segment comprises a major value fashion retail group, Primark, trading in the high streets of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

The Grocery segment includes a number of major manufacturers of branded and private label products. These include hot beverages; sugars & sweeteners; vegetable oils; bread & baked goods; ethnic foods; herbs & spices; meat & dairy products.

Our Ingredients segment operates globally in yeast and bakery ingredients production. In addition, it focuses on high-value ingredients for food and non-food applications.

More information about the group

Can you tell me how to apply for a job at Associated British Foods?

For further information on recruitment, please visit the individual company websites within the group.

A list of these can be found on the Careers page

I am interested in finding out more about the history of ABF. How did the Company begin?

From its inception in November 1935 as Food Investments Limited and its rapid change to Allied Bakeries Limited five weeks later, the business grew dramatically as a broad-based food manufacturing organisation, becoming Associated British Foods Limited in February 1960. It finally changed to Associated British Foods plc in May 1982 to comply with legal requirements.

Growth has been predominantly through acquisition and has resulted in a global group operating in 47 countries, employing over 113,000 employees.

You can find out more in our history section

What procedures do you have in place to ensure there are no conflicts of interest between ABF, Wittington and Wittington's other interest?

The Listing Rules of the UK Listing Authority regulate dealings between related parties. We take care to ensure that dealings between ABF, Wittington and Fortnum and Mason are conducted in compliance with those requirements.

Can you please send me regular updates?

If you would like to receive regular news updates, please visit our media section where you can sign up for press releases.

Media section

Can you tell me what Associated British Foods dividend payment will be this year?

There is a dividend page within the investor relations section which details the dividend payments

Dividend Page

Who could advise me on the value of my shares?

The share price is shown at the top of the website and there is a page within the Investors section which provides more detailed information on the share price.

Can you send me a hard copy of your Annual Report & Accounts?

The ABF Annual Report and Accounts are available to view and print from the Annual Reports pages of the Investor section of this website.

You can also request a hard copy of the Annual Report

How many women do you have on your board?

We have two female non-executive directors, Emma Adamo, who joined the board in 2011 and Ruth Cairnie, who joined the board in May 2014.

More information about our board

How diverse is your business as a whole?

ABF is a very diverse business, as you would expect for a company that employees over 113,000 people across 47 countries. We are committed to offering equal opportunities to all people in their recruitment, training and career development, having regard for their particular aptitudes and abilities.

www.primark.co.uk

How is Primark clothing so cheap?

Primark works with large volumes, meaning it is able to offer high quality products at competitive prices. We have low operating costs and carry smaller overheads than many competitors. We don’t, for example, run expensive advertising campaigns and we are prepared to accept a slightly lower profit margin than our competitors. Giving our customers good value at all times is a priority.

Will Primark open an online store?

Our focus at the moment is on developing the store network where we see huge opportunities.

How does Primark rank among other high street retailers in terms of ethical trade?

Our Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that suppliers and factories must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions and the people making them are treated decently and paid a fair wage. It is based upon the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, which is itself founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice, used by many other high street retailers as the basis for their own codes of conduct.

Primark was pleased to be awarded ‘Leader’ status by the ETI in June 2011 and again in June 2012. This is the highest possible status and reflects continued strong growth in auditing, remediation and training programmes, and extensive external engagement.

The ETI recognises four progressive stages of a company’s commitment to, and performance of, ethical trading. These are Foundation, Improver, Achiever and Leader. The ETI classifies a Leader as “tackling the root causes of labour rights problems beyond individual workplaces with collaborative initiatives aimed at the sectoral level and / or in raw materials or components supply. The company can demonstrate positive impacts for workers in its supply chain and reports transparently on progress. The company is advocating for greater respect for workers’ rights throughout its sphere of influence.”

Please visit Primark's ethical trade website.

How do you ensure that factories are meeting your code of conduct?

When selecting new factories, we require them to go through a process which entails a comprehensive audit of labour standards against our Code of Conduct. Audits are conducted by our own regional ethical trading teams and external partners. Our external partners are selected on the basis of their local expertise, specialist skills, robust practices and innovative methodologies.

Once the results of the audit report have been shared with Primark, our ethical trading teams begin working with the factory to address the issues identified. Some issues are relatively quick and easy to fix such as installing the correct type of fire extinguisher. Others may need a more long-term approach and are more complex, such as identifying and implementing a way of reducing overtime.

What if a factory doesn’t comply with Primark’s code of conduct?

We believe in working with suppliers so that they improve their performance to meet and maintain our ethical standards. On rare occasions we consider terminating a supplier’s contract for failure to comply with our Code of Conduct. Working towards ethical and sustainable supply chains is often challenging, and can only be achieved through a programme of continuous improvement, learning and assessment; one that encourages and fosters engagement and dialogue.

More information can be seen on Primark's website.

How does Primark manage its impact on the environment?

More information at Primark's environmental sustainability page

What is ABF doing to support sugar workers in Africa?

We spend over £4m each year giving Illovo Sugar’s employees and their dependants access to healthcare, either through the network of four hospitals and 24 clinics run by the group or through the provision of medical insurance schemes.

The group continues to take a proactive stance against life-threatening epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In Swaziland, Illovo’s Ubombo hospital facility received a certificate of recognition for being one of the top hospital facilities for HIV care in Swaziland and also received four other prizes from the Swaziland Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS.

You can find out more on Illovo's website.

Why are not all of Twinings’ teas Fairtrade/Rainforest Alliance certified?

While we recognise the great work done by certification organisations such as Fairtrade/Rainforest Alliance, in our view a business doesn’t have to be certified in order to behave ethically.

Does Twinings guarantee that none of its suppliers treat workers unethically?

Twinings does not condone unethical business practices and welcomes any initiative that helps to improve the living and working conditions of tea estate workers around the world.

As a founder member of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) we work closely with producers to improve living and working conditions, but the ETP vision is one that will take time.

For the past 13 years the ETP has done much to improve the lives of tea workers and their families but it is important to remember that the issues facing tea estate workers are often endemic to the tea producing country and its broader agricultural industry.

Twinings will continue to work closely with the ETP to help improve the lives of tea workers and their families.

More information provided on the Twinings website.

Is any of your bread organic?

There are currently no plans to introduce organic bread products. However, we do offer bread baked with Conservation Grade wheat in our Allinson range. Conservation Grade is a scheme encouraging farmers to restore sustainability to commercial farming.

What plans do you have to launch a Gluten Free bread range?

We have no current plans to launch a gluten free bread.

Has your company published an environmental policy?

Yes. ABF's environmental policy is published on this web site and is part of the Policies and Appendices section of the Corporate Responsibility Report.

Our environmental policy

What is ABF doing to reduce its impact on the environment?

The key aspect for us is to make sure that we use the minimal amount of energy to run our operations and to maximise our energy efficiency. In addition, we aim to ensure our emissions do not have an unacceptable environmental impact, the amount of packaging used for our products is minimised and that products are transported efficiently to minimise fuel usage.

Further information on our responsible stewardship for the environment

Does ABF use palm oil?

The group uses a very small quantity of palm oil, accounting for approximately 0.06% of the total global annual supply, understood to be 45 million tonnes.

Some of our businesses operate sustainable palm oil policies and are purchasing Certified Sustainable palm oil and Green Palm certificates. In 2010, we introduced a group wide commitment that all of our businesses would use only Certified Sustainable palm oil by 2015 (provided that supply is available).

What ingredients does the group make and how much is used internally by ABF companies?

ABF produces a range of ingredients but molasses from British Sugar are supplied to AB Mauri and ABF Ingredients as raw materials for yeast and yeast extracts production. Bakery enzymes, dough conditioners and improvers are supplied by our ingredients businesses to GWF Baking and Allied Bakeries.

What targets do you have for reducing omissions?

ABF has registered for the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) which is a new carbon emissions trading scheme which applies to large, but non-energy- intensive, businesses and we estimate that the CRC applies to 85% of the energy used in our UK businesses.

Please view our CR report for more information

Does your company operate a programme for improving water usage? What targets has your company set to improve water efficiency?

It is ABF’s policy that our operating companies must use all natural resources, including water, efficiently so that we are not wasteful. Group companies continually review water consumption and set themselves improvement targets as appropriate.

Please view our CR report for more information

Does your company actively source locally produced ingredients?

Yes, where this is appropriate to the product group. In the case of our sugar operations in England, Poland, Africa and China, raw materials are purchased from as close to the processing factory as is possible. With regard to cereals purchased, ABF has actively worked to reduce dependence on imported varieties of wheat for bread making, through advice to growers on variety selection. It purchases around 15% of the UK crop.

In the case of some foods such as tea and rice however, local purchase is impossible.

Does ABF test any products on animals?

We avoid the use of animal testing wherever possible. In each of the markets where we are active we comply with all relevant laws and only use animals for research where it is a legal requirement.

What is your position on GM Foods?

Our GM Policy is available here

Has your company published a Health and Safety Policy?

Our health and safety policy can be found here.

Does your company have a Health & Safety Management system?

We require all subsidiary companies to implement the requisite level of risk-management controls to ensure compliance with our Health & Safety Policy. This enables them to install the level of risk management system which best suits their business needs and local circumstances.

British Sugar was the first company in the world to have its occupational H&S management system externally certified by Lloyds Register Quality Assurance to OHSAS 18001.

The board sends strong messages throughout the business about the importance of safe working. The Group Safety and Environment Manager delivers reports to the board and, more frequently, to the Chief Executive on performance, and consults with directors on safety developments across the business. The Group HR Director, who reports to the Chief Executive, has overall responsibility for the group’s safety policies and performance management, supported by the Group Safety and Environment Manager and team. Each business has at least one senior technical specialist who manages compliance, development, monitoring and reporting of safety performance.

Please view our CR report for more information