REWE Group Supervisory Board sets the course for future board
12 June 2017
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Details about our efforts.
Mission Statement on Future Livestock Farming
In 2015, the REWE Group published a position paper intended to encourage contract suppliers to improve the welfare conditions of farm animals. This mission statement documents the values REWE Group stands for and specifies the characteristics of a more sustainable production of animal source foods, which is to be implemented in the future. For many years now, the company has been strongly committed to improving animal welfare and animal-friendliness. The goal is to further develop existing projects.
The complete mission statement can be downloaded here from the REWE Group's website.
Doing away with unanaesthetized piglet castration
In August 2015, the REWE Group announced the goal of ensuring that by 2017, no fresh pork sold in Germany under its own brands would come from pigs castrated without anaesthesia. The majority of suppliers have already been able to switch to alternative methods, so that approximately 70 percent of the pork we sell meets these requirements.
Associations and producers have told us that small farming enterprises, especially in southern Germany, still face major challenges and high hurdles in this regard. Therefore, working with the suppliers who obtain pigs from such small farms, we have framed a development plan that will enable us to complete the transition as soon as possible. This reflects the high priority of this topic but also takes into account that small farming operations, in particular, need to be preserved.
We can affirm that through our early adoption of this goal, we have already done a great deal to improve the welfare of pigs within the industry. Therefore, we will maintain our strong commitment to addressing this issue.
Animal Welfare Label of the German Animal Welfare Association
The Association's two-tier animal welfare label as well as individual private-sector approaches to animal welfare share the goal of improving animal welfare. Therefore, in selected regions and markets the REWE Group is testing chicken products bearing the animal welfare label. Depending on availability and consumer acceptance of the products, this option will be expanded to additional markets.
The REWE Group has converted its entire line of fresh chicken products to PRO PLANET. All of the company's chicken meat suppliers participate in this program. In addition to its sustainability aspects in regard to the feeding of broilers (GMO-free feed), the PRO PLANET chicken program includes a significant animal welfare component. These producers keep a total of more than 20 million chickens who are raised under PRO PLANET criteria. This corresponds exactly to the volume of chicken meat that the REWE Group sells, and the chickens are given 15 percent more space. Structural elements such as pick stones and straw bales are also placed in the stalls. Due to the reduction in stocking density, these measures help to improve the climate in the stalls and the bedding material stays drier. As a result, positive effects on the chickens' health and social behaviour are also evident. The REWE Group has entered a contractual framework agreement with all suppliers that governs how the criteria are implemented. The chicken producers are audited on a random basis by PROVIEH and the REWE Group.
These measures to improve welfare conditions, which the REWE Group pioneered in 2013, became the industry-wide Animal Welfare Initiative in October 2015.
In close cooperation with the two farmers' associations of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chamber of Agriculture, the REWE Group is initiating a flagship project in which approximately 60 pig farmers forego the routine docking of tails. The intact curly tail of a pig is a suitable indicator that the animal has been treated well throughout its life. When the welfare conditions and feed are appropriate for the animals' needs, stress and tail-biting can be reduced. The REWE Group supports and promotes such animal welfare measures with the long-term goal of selling the meat from such pioneering projects in REWE markets under a special label.
Since 2010, the REWE Group sales lines REWE and PENNY in Germany have sold only whole eggs that are obtained from barn and free-range chickens and meet the requirements of the Association for Controlled Alternative Animal Husbandry (KAT). In 2012, the company decided to also refrain from using eggs from cage and battery hens in processed products in Germany.
The REWE Group has set a goal of ending the sale of cage eggs (fresh eggs) in all its foreign companies by 2025 at the latest. The fact that the majority of laying hens are kept in enriched cages, particularly in eastern Europe, is delaying the immediate implementation of these requirements in those countries.
REWE and PENNY stores sell fresh eggs from hatcheries where – unlike in conventional hatcheries – the beaks of laying hens are not trimmed and the male chicks are not culled.
The eggs from the REWE pilot project are now available in about 600 markets across North Rhine–Westphalia and northern Rhineland-Palatinate as well as in certain markets of the REWE Eastern Region, sold under the exclusive Spitz & Bube brand. In the project, 20,000 laying hens of an alternative breed called Sandy are kept in free-range conditions. This breed is known to be relatively calm, which makes it suitable for leaving the beaks untrimmed. The breed is new to German laying hen houses. Closer monitoring by farmers and the presence of materials such as straw bales to keep the hens occupied make it possible to leave the beaks untrimmed. This spares the hens a painful procedure, and they can follow their instincts to peck and scratch. The laying hens receive appropriate chicken feed with non-GMO ingredients. By the end of 2017, eggs from this project will be available in all REWE markets in Germany.
On February 1, 2017, PENNY became the first discounter in Germany to introduce to its product range nationwide the Spitz & Bube brand, fresh eggs from barns where beaks are left untrimmed and the male chicks are not killed. In addition, the chickens receive a GMO-free feed (VLOG logo).
Since September 2017 stores in the REWE Group (REWE and PENNY) do no longer sell conventional own-brand eggs laid by hens with trimmed beaks. Poultry industry trade associations and Germany's Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture agreed last year to stop stocking pullets with trimmed beaks as of January 1, 2017. Based on the life expectancy of laying hens, this would mean that eggs from hens with trimmed beaks would be banned from the market by mid-2018 at the latest – the REWE Group is now one of the first trade associations in Germany to bring the date forward to the end of 2017. Organic eggs are not included in this measure because trimming their beaks is already prohibited.
As of the end of 2016, the German state of North Rhine–Westphalia plans to ban routine beak-trimming for poultry. In the past, poultry farmers have trimmed beaks to keep the birds from injuring one another. Representatives from the areas of politics, agriculture, retail sales and animal welfare set this goal in a joint declaration in June 2015. In addition to Agriculture Minister Johannes Remmel (Greens), signatories include the agricultural associations, the NRW Poultry Association, the PROVIEH animal welfare association, Lidl and the REWE Group.
We are also convinced that across the board, greater animal welfare in livestock farming can only be achieved if we work together. Therefore, we have joined the Initiative Tierwohl (Animal Welfare Initiative), a coalition of German agriculture, meat packing and grocery retail industries, which entails a significant financial contribution. The money is used to pay livestock owners for implementing measures that are not required by law. Over 255 million pigs, chickens and turkeys have already benefited as the coalition's criteria were met on more than 3,000 farms. No previous approach has accomplished so much. The coalition has recently approved a draft for cornerstones of its further development. Among other measures, it expanded its funding by 35 million euros to 100 million euros per year, which means that even more pig farmers can participate. The Animal Welfare Initiative defines measurable animal welfare criteria that were developed in close cooperation among businesses, scientists and animal protection advocates. These criteria significantly exceed statutory provisions in the EU and Germany.