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26 September 2019

Protecting the rainforest: The REWE Group supports certified and European soya

The supply chain for fresh poultry and private-label eggs and milk is certified as deforestation-free

Soya plant

The demand for soya beans has massively increased in recent decades. Europe alone imports about 25 million tonnes of South American soya every year, which is predominantly used for animal feed in meat, eggs and dairy production. South American soya cultivation has drastic consequences because of the vast area of land it requires. It is a major contributing factor to the clearing of the Amazonian forests which, in turn, is destroying the habitats of numerous plants and animals. Deforestation releases large volumes of greenhouse gases while, at the same time, land is being seized illegally from smallholders and indigenous people. No longer willing to sit by and accept the grave consequences on the environment and on human rights, the REWE Group has reached an important milestone. All private-label eggs, milk and fresh poultry at REWE and PENNY are now produced using sustainable soya as animal feed and are certified as deforestation-free.

To minimise the long-term impact of animal food products on deforestation in South America, the REWE Group is continuously analysing all supply chains that involve the extensive use of soya. This is because an environmental assessment that is similar to the CO2 footprint, can also be carried out for soya. The “soya footprint” measures the amount of soya animal feed used in animal products, such as meat. “Thanks to our commitment to cultivating European soya over the past few years, the entire soya footprint of our private-label eggs, milk and fresh poultry at REWE and PENNY has been certified as deforestation-free,” says Marcel Weber, REWE Group Managing Director of Private-Label Goods National and International. This means that for the supply chains of its private-label products of animal origin, the REWE Group has adopted a principle of gradually reducing soya bean meal imports from South America and certifying non-substitutable South American soya (for example, using the ProTerra Standard). It is also facilitating the cultivation of soya in Europe and the use of alternative, local sources of protein.

As a founding member of the Donau Soja Organisation, the REWE Group has cooperated with around 220 farmers since 2015 to support the cultivation of over 55,000 tons of certified, deforestation-free soya in the Zupanja region of Croatia. The organisation advocates sustainably produced, non-genetically engineered soya from Europe that helps to create added value in the Danube basin region. Donau Soja thus supports an independent, environmentally sustainable source of protein in Europe, thereby reducing the pressure on the sensitive regions of South America. Targeted training opportunities and an independently controlled and certified supply chain from the soya field all the way through to the supermarket shelves are intended to help steadily expand the cultivation of European soya.

The goal: A deforestation-free supply chain by 2020

As a member of the Consumer Goods Forum, the REWE Group supports the goal of establishing a deforestation-free supply chain by 2020 – a goal which is being pursued on various levels and through a variety of measures. Aside from cooperating with certification organisations, this work also involves detailed projects in products’ countries of origin and discussions on appropriate topics at multi‑stakeholder initiatives, such as the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil.

In 2017, the REWE Group signed the Statement of Support for the Cerrado Manifesto  alongside a number of Brazilian NGOs, including WWF Brazil, TNC (The Nature Conservancy), CI-Brazil (Conservation International), Greenpeace Brazil, IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) and Imaflora (Institute for Agriculture and Forest Management and Certification) and global businesses. Its aim is to raise awareness of the environmental risks related to climate change and to the deforestation caused by agricultural production in the Cerrado Savanna located inland in South-eastern Brazil.

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2018, the company generated a total external turnover of around 61 billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has more than 360,000 employees in 22 European countries.

Sales lines include REWE, REWE CENTER, BILLA, MERKUR and ADEG supermarkets and consumer stores, the discounter PENNY, BIPA health and beauty store and the toom Baumarkt DIY stores. There are also convenience stores (REWE To Go) and e-commerce activities (the REWE delivery service, Zooroyal online pet food shop, Weinfreunde wine shop and Kölner Weinkeller wine merchant). Travel and tourism under the umbrella of DER Touristik Group includes the tour operators ITS, Jahn Reisen, Dertour, Meier’s Weltreisen, ADAC Reisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, Apollo and Exim Tours, and more than 2,400 travel agencies (including DER Reisebüro, DERPART and partners), the hotel chains ITI Hotels, Club Calimera, COOEE, PrimaSol and Playitas Resort, and the direct tour operator,