Step by step towards greater animal welfare
Animal welfare is one issue that is truly near and dear to the hearts of many consumers in Germany. The survey for our Sustainability Report revealed that animal welfare is a major concern for our customers. With the help of a dedicated team, we here at ALDI North are working on making effective progress, step by step.
In Germany, the Corporate Responsibility (CR) department of ALDI Buying is tackling various issues related to animal welfare. It is a demanding job, because almost no other sustainability aspect is debated with as much emotion as this one is. The challenges are complex, and the tasks are manifold. No two days are alike: holding talks with suppliers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations, attending meetings for initiatives and working groups, and – last, but not least – detailed coordination and collaboration with the other departments and divisions at ALDI Buying, as many other colleagues are also trying to make continued progress with animal welfare. This is the case, for example, in Buying, which relays our jointly developed requirements to suppliers, or in Marketing and Communications, which answers enquiries from the media and customers and comes up with ideas to inform our customers of improved animal welfare standards for our products. Quality Assurance also assists us by lending its expertise whenever we need it. Finally, we maintain regular contact with colleagues in other countries to share experience and learn from each other.
“We have already achieved a great deal. Our Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy is one of the most extensive there is in the German market, according to the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt. Our customers can also see what kind of progress we are making right on the products themselves thanks to our new Fair & Gut own brand for animal welfare and the German Animal Welfare Federation’s label, for example.”
Dr. Christina Fries-Henrich
Head of Corporate Responsibility, ALDI Buying
Our measures at a glance
In early 2018, we launched the new own brand called Fair & Gut. Selected fresh meat products using improved animal husbandry practices are sold under this brand. The own brand combines various animal welfare labels and their standards that go above and beyond the legal husbandry requirements. Fair & Gut stands for
- “fair trade”: farmers receive assistance with their investments for better welfare conditions for the animals.
- “good treatment”: the level of animal welfare with regard to how they are cared for and kept exceeds the legal standard.
We have initially rolled out six poultry products under the new own brand. They meet the criteria for the entry standard of the German Animal Welfare Federation’s “Für Mehr Tierschutz” label. Among other things, this means more room, straw bales and pecking blocks in the barn, access to a covered area in winter and GMO-free feed. Compliance with the specifications is checked by independent outside certification bodies that perform regular inspections. Step by step, we will be adding more products to our range under this label.
Our animal welfare efforts also extend to our cosmetic products. Since late 2017, we have begun marking our vegan cosmetic and body care products with The Vegan Society’s vegan flower label. The first item to receive the label is the Biocura liquid soap in the refill bag
We have been members of the Leather Working Group (LWG) since 2015. Among other things, the LWG has set itself the goal of making the conditions in tanneries and at intermediaries more transparent and sustainable. In order to further improve the traceability of leather, 2016 saw the entry into an LWG working group – the Animal Welfare Subgroup (AWG). Its goal is to educate the supply chain on the salient aspects of animal welfare issues.
In September 2017, the Meierkamp brand’s “Frische Alpenmilch” (fresh Alpine milk) was launched at select stores in Germany. The milk is certified under the entry standard of the German Animal Welfare Federation’s label. The rollout is a pilot project that we are carrying out together with the supplier and the German Animal Welfare Federation. The milk comes from farms in the Alpine foothills and the Allgäu which fulfil our tough quality and animal welfare criteria. Just three months later and the sale of the certified milk was expanded to include all German stores. In more than half of our stores, we also carry Meierkamp’s “Weidemilch” (meadow-grazed milk). It has featured the animal welfare label under the premium standard since 2018.
“Hen & rooster!” is the name of a pilot project for rearing male chicks – or rooster brothers – in the egg-producing industry. We have been carrying out the project together with a supplier since August 2017. Normally, the roosters that hatch at an egg farm are not raised, as they do not put on as much meat as hens. However, the eggs from “Hen & rooster!” come from laying hens kept in barns, whose “brothers” are also raised. By purchasing “Hen & rooster” eggs, our customers are helping support our commitment to greater animal welfare in the egg-producing industry. The eggs from our pilot project are available at two regional companies in Germany and are easy to identify thanks to their eye-catching packaging
Once a year, we update our German Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy, which contains all of our requirements. In the process, we regularly add new measures and goals. We set new goals in 2017 as well, including the following:
- By the end of 2018, we will review the requirements specified in our Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy on a spot check basis through in-house or external audits. The requirements include no battery eggs in processed products, no castration of piglets in boar fattening, no slaughtering of in-calf cows and no live plucking/force-feeding of geese and ducks.
- The hen-farming method should be indicated on products with processed eggs.
- We will be gradually changing over our products with down and/or feathers (e.g. textiles and bedding) to goods that have been certified under the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) or Downpass, for example.
- In terms of products with sheep’s wool, we also intend to look into changing over to certification under the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). This animal welfare standard covers the entire value chain of wool products.
In 2017, we also held training once again for buyers on the issue of animal welfare.
We have compiled an extensive negative list in recent years, which bans the sale of products that are not consistent with our animal welfare standards. The following items were added to the list in 2017:
- Fresh chicken and turkey meat almost exclusively from animals that were effectively stunned prior to slaughter using the more animal-friendly carbon dioxide alternative
- No ostrich meat
- No shell eggs from laying hens with trimmed beaks (achieved as of 1 January 2018)
ALDI North Germany took third place in the vegan ranking of supermarkets conducted by the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt. This ranking is due in particular to our expanded range of vegan products and the “Mein Veggie Tag” own brand.
- We are a founding member of the Animal Welfare Initiative (Initiative Tierwohl – ITW), which joins the efforts of retail, research, animal welfare activists and pig and poultry farmers in Germany. Since January 2015, the Animal Welfare Initiative has been working on improving the conditions found in pig and poultry farming.
- In 2017, ALDI North Germany reached an agreement with the other members of the initiative to extend it and adopted the programme for 2018 to 2020. Among other items, plans call for expanding the existing audit system by adding inventory checks that take place unannounced once a year. The animal welfare allowance was also raised beginning in 2018 from 4 cents to 6.25 cents per kilo. Overall, the allowance will generate approximately 130 million euros per year, which is around 45 million euros more than the previous amount. More than 520 million animals are currently benefiting from the improvements. The number of pig farmers participating in the Animal Welfare Initiative rose by 70 per cent at the beginning of 2018 to more than 4,100 farms. The Animal Welfare Initiative issued a product label for the first time in 2018 to designate poultry products that come from farms participating in the initiative and thus fulfil certain animal welfare criteria. We have been included right from the start: since April, all untreated fresh poultry products at our stores in Germany have carried the new label.
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Every year, consumers make 1.2 billion purchases at our stores. Our goal is to promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle – and make it possible for a broad section of society to engage in affordable, responsible consumption.