29. June 2022

CEO of Kavli: “Creating profit for good causes provides direction”

"Our purpose is to create profit for good causes in a sustainable way. This provides direction for everyone in the Kavli Group", says CEO of Kavli, Kenneth Hamnes.

“Kavli has always strived for sustainability. We now wish to put even more weight on this, creating a reinforcing, virtuous cycle, with all links in the value chain affecting each other,” says Kenneth Hamnes.

CEO: Kenneth Hamnes, Group CEO of KavliHolding AS. 

Striking a note with consumers

It has been just over a year since Hamnes took over as the new CEO of the Kavli Group. He already had broad experience from the grocery industry, including as CEO of Maarud AS, Sales Director in Stabburet AS and Product Manager in Lilleborg AS. He joined the Kavli Group after leaving his job as Group CEO of the listed wine and spirits company Arcus ASA.

As a newcomer to the job as CEO, he was looking forward to working with a charitable foundation as owner.

“The workday itself is probably quite similar to managing other food groups. The Board of Kavli Holding is commercial and competent, and sets just as high targets as other owners,” he points out.

“But more and more people are becoming aware that Kavli and Q-Meieriene are owned by Kavli Trust, which strengthens our brand enormously. That we have a foundation as an owner, with a solid and good purpose, strikes a note with consumers. Stronger brands will over time strengthen Kavli Trust, which in turn can distribute even more money to good causes,” says Hamnes.

Love to share award

To further motivate and inspire employees, he has introduced a new award internally. He has borrowed the name from the Kavli Group’s motto, Love to Share. The new Love to Share awards will make sharing with others an even stronger part of the culture and everyday work of the entire group, across countries and brands.

“The awards should point to areas where we need to improve, such as sustainability, safety, organic growth and efficiency,” he says.

“They also give key employees, project teams and business units deserved praise, ensuring that employees are seen by the entire group. This is meant to be a positive competition, and I hope that there will be some competition for the Love to Share awards. They should be difficult to achieve,” declares Hamnes.

Sustainability achievment

In March 2022, Q-Meieriene was ranked number three on Europe’s largest sustainability barometer for brands, the Sustainable Brand Index.

The index reflects consumers’ perceptions of the companies’ sustainability work. Q-Meieriene achieved third place in the competition which involved as many as 265 brands, giving it the highest ranking of all brands in food production.

“Such achievements motivate and inspire us to continue our efforts and to step them up even more,” says a proud CEO. The work of developing and improving sustainability targets is ongoing. In 2021, the Kavli Group’s long-term sustainability targets towards 2030 were updated.

“Internally, we use the motto ‘Our responsibility’, which describes exactly what sustainability is all about: being responsible. Our purpose is to create profit for good causes in a sustainable way. This provides direction for everyone in the Kavli Group,” says Hamnes.

 Sustainability is expected

He points out that the expectations of sustainability from both consumers and food chains strengthen awareness throughout the group, driving even more stringent demands on the Kavli companies’ suppliers and partners.

“Everyone sees the importance of this. Our job is to develop smart solutions,” says Hamnes.

One such solution was the launch of Kavli Bacon Cheese in tubes of recycled aluminium in February 2022.

“Recycling aluminium uses only five percent of the energy needed to make brand new aluminium,” he explains. Kavli also works to increase knowledge among consumers that the aluminium tube can be recycled, including the one made of aluminium that has already been recycled.

“In 2021, we launched Action for Recycling and the project ‘From tube to bicycle’ to teach thousands of Norwegian school children about the potential of recycling Kavli tubes,” Hamnes says proudly.

Innovation in Jæren

Kavli’s new Innovation House in Q-Meieriene’s dairy operation in Jæren is the group’s new pride, and will be fully operational during the spring of 2022.

“We are really looking forward to it. Q-Meieriene’s many years of innovative work is evident in the name. The building is designed to show how we work and how we make our products. The consumers, who we see as the managers of Q-Meieriene, will be invited to the Innovation House,” Hamnes says.

New machines will make it possible to launch many more innovations.

“This gives us a completely different energy. We need to actively define our markets, and not settle for the status quo. This allows us to be braver and challenge the market with new ideas. Our goal is always to aim for relevant markets, where there will always be room for growth.”

“We never give up”

Over the past year, the Kavli Group has had major challenges with changes in the operating parameters for those playing outside the agricultural cooperative in the dairy sector.

Hamnes emphasises Q-Meieriene’s role as a challenger and innovator in the dairy sector, and points out that effective competition has meant that the annual production of Norwegian milk has been stable at around 1.5 billion litres in recent years.

“Stortinget (the Norwegian parliament) has repeatedly said that they want competition in the dairy sector, and therefore companies who are not part of the cooperative have received competitive subsidies. At Q-Meieriene we believe that compensation for permanent and structural disadvantages that we have in relation to Tine (the largest Norwegian dairy product cooperative) is correct and should continue,” says Hamnes.

He emphasises that Q-Meieriene will continue to work to be part of the solution for Norwegian agriculture, even if the competitive subsidies are challenged from the cooperative side.

“We never give up. Consumers want greater selection and innovation, and delicious products made from Norwegian milk. They get all of this from Q-Meieriene,” Hamnes states.

Strong brands

After a year as CEO, Hamnes still refers to Kavli as a leading, wellrespected food company with strong brands and a solid position in local markets.

“Kavli regularly asserts itself in rankings related to innovation and brand strength. We have a good dialogue with consumers and customers, and are always looking for insight that we “Everyone sees the importance of this. Our job is to develop smart solutions.” can turn into profitable growth,” he says, adding:

“The group’s most important strength is our multilocal organisational structure where local companies have their own value chain with product development, production, marketing and sales. This allows us to target the markets even better with local flavours and concepts. Our strengths rest on great brands, such as Kavli, Q, Skyr, Primula, Eriks, Planti, Johnny’s and many others.”

Kavli’s updated strategy outlines that the group must become more efficient and digitise. To enable this to happen Hamnes welcomes a number of improvement projects across the group. “My wish to improve on efficiency and digitisation only reinforces what we are already doing. I want us to increase our ambitions, and one of our main goals is good and stable operation,” he concludes.

This interview was first published in Kavli Trust’s annual report for 2021. You can read and download the full report here