The REWE Group has already achieved remarkable success in the fight to prevent the culling of millions of male chicks that belong to laying breeds. By the start of 2020, up to 25% of private-label shell eggs – depending on the sales line – will be sourced from no-kill suppliers. Customers can already purchase respeggt (carton of six, free-range) eggs, in more than 2,500 REWE and PENNY stores. Availability will expand to all 5,500 stores across Germany by the middle of 2020. The REWE Group is making this shift in accordance with the call by the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, for an end to the practice of culling male chicks from laying breeds by the end of 2021, if possible. The REWE Group is focusing on no-kill suppliers for its own private-label eggs in order to prevent structural breakdowns and competitive disadvantages in domestic egg production. REWE Group sells over a billion private-label shell eggs each year.
“We want to be pioneers in ending the practice of culling chicks in Germany and beyond, but this must not result in chicken breeders moving their operations to other countries, German farmers who raise laying breeds suffering competitive disadvantages, or millions of newly-hatched male chicks being shipped off to another country to be killed or put to questionable use. We’re sending a clear signal as a commercial enterprise that we object to such an outcome, and we’re doing our part by establishing no-kill supply chains. We are very pleased that food and agriculture minister Julia Klöckner is pushing for solutions that don’t result in male chicks being transported to places with fewer regulations where they could be destroyed,” says Bartholomäus Malcherek, Head of Fresh and Frozen Produce and Purchasing and Development of Store Brands National/International for the REWE Group. We’re open to any and all practices that are acceptable to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and that goes for alternative technological approaches to sexing hatchery eggs, as well as for “Bruderhahn” projects [that focus on using, not killing, the male chicks of laying breeds] or for dual-purpose breeds. What is important is that our supply chains do not involve the destruction of male chicks anywhere or by any means, and that we are able to prove it,” adds Bartholomäus Malcherek.
Whatever lawmakers decide in the future, the REWE Group’s voluntary policy is sending a clear and strong signal because the demand for no-kill supply chains also impacts foreign producers who serve the German egg market but are not affected by Germany’s laws.
In November 2018, REWE Group successfully launched the world’s first retail sales of respeggt eggs in roughly 220 REWE and PENNY stores in the greater Berlin region. These eggs were laid by chickens that hatched from eggs sexed using SELEGGT, the egg-sexing technique developed to put a stop to chick culling. The REWE Group regards expansion of this process for sexing hatchery eggs as a key factor in the ability of industry and trade to offer no-kill supply chains, preferably by the end of 2021.
REWE Group has pursued its long-term sustainability strategy since 2016, offering its customers the Spitz&Bube (REWE) and Herzbube (PENNY) brands of barn eggs (with organic and free-range eggs also available at REWE) which are sourced from projects that promote rearing male chicks. Since then, nearly 1,200,000 male chicks have been reared under these programmes. Meat from Spitz&Bube and Herzbube male and female chickens is processed into poultry products. Both male and female chickens are given non-GMO feed and reared in barns with perches and material that keeps them occupied. The project is scientifically supported by Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and its activities are monitored by independent certification authorities.