10 February 2021

Phasing-out chick culling: REWE is switching to animal-friendly practices for all its private-label fresh eggs in 2021

The food retailer is a pioneer in the industry and is implementing government plans early
Reading time: 5 min.

Opposed to the culling of millions of male chicks, REWE is now ensuring step by step that all its fresh eggs – even those from its lowest-priced private label, ja! – are sourced from laying-hen breeders where male chicks are not killed. REWE is thus the first major food retailer in Germany to move its entire range of private-label shell eggs from all farming methods to no-kill eggs. It’s even expected to happen this year! Consumers will be made particularly aware of the changes. The traditional ja! logo of the popular private label will be replaced by the eye-catching “No to chick culling!” label on the egg box for fresh barn eggs.

Eierkarton von ja!

For the fresh barn eggs, the bold “No! to chick-killing” label on the egg carton replaces the traditional “ja!” logo of the popular private label.

“ja! fresh barn eggs are the best-selling eggs in REWE stores by a large margin,” says Hans-Jürgen Moog, head of merchandising at REWE. “That’s what makes this step-by-step change to no-kill supply chains by the end of 2021 as challenging, complex and time consuming as it is necessary. We are the first of the major German food retail chains to take this step and, in so doing, are continuing in our role as pioneers when it comes to animal welfare. We made changes long ago while others are only announcing theirs now,” emphasises Moog. “When we started the project years ago, success was not guaranteed. Although the conditions in which laying hens are bred have become increasingly important to our customers, they also had to come round to the idea of paying a little more for better animal welfare.”

The pack of 10 “Nein! zum Kükentöten” (No to chick culling!) eggs are initially available in about 200 REWE stores in North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern part of Rhineland-Palatinate. Other stores in Germany will soon follow as the breeders ramp up their supply to meet demand. These eggs will be available across Germany by the end of the year.

In Germany alone, 45 million male chicks are killed every year. Rearing male chicks is not economically viable when they come from laying breeds. REWE initiated a reversal of this practice in 2016 with the pioneering male chick and animal welfare project, Spitz&Bube. Instead of male chicks being culled at a hatchery, they are reared until they are suitable for slaughter. The use of material to keep the birds occupied during the fattening stage, such as straw bales and pecking blocks, encourages natural behaviour towards scratching and pecking. Both laying and broiler chickens receive only GMO-free feed. Meat from Spitz&Bube male and female chickens is used to make REWE Beste Wahl (“Best Choice”) chicken fricassee. All procedures along with the breeding and rearing of chickens are scientifically supported by Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and monitored by independent certification authorities. Spitz&Bube eggs laid by organic, free-range and barn chickens are already available in all REWE stores throughout Germany.

Additionally, REWE launched respeggt free-range eggs in 2018. These eggs stand for a supply chain that does not cull male chicks. The sex of chicks can be determined in the egg using innovative technology. Only eggs containing female chicks are then incubated further. Eggs containing male chicks are made into a high-quality animal feed. The respeggt eggs can be recognised by their “Free of Chick Culling” heart-shaped label and are available in many REWE stores.

About REWE

With sales of 28.4 billion euros (2022), more than 160.000 employees and over 3,800 REWE stores, REWE Markt GmbH is one of Germany’s leading food retail companies. REWE stores are run as subsidiaries or by independent REWE retailers.

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2022, the company generated a total external turnover of around 84.8 billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has more than 384,000 employees and operates in 21 European countries.

Raimund Esser
Head of Corporate Communications at
REWE Markt