“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.