Animal welfare at a discounter – a contradiction in terms?
We don’t think so. That is why we are working tirelessly on this issue together with our suppliers and various organisations in every country where ALDI North engages in retail. Through these efforts, we aim to enhance the level of animal welfare during the manufacture of our products.
Increasing numbers of consumers are interested in knowing where the food made from animals that they purchase in our stores comes from. They want to ensure that the animals are treated well, which is why we pursue one goal above all in the steps we take: to improve livestock farming conditions on a wide scale, and not only with regard to individual products or producers. And how are we making this goal a reality? By striving to certify as many of our items as possible under various national animal welfare programmes.
“Every time ALDI raises its animal welfare standards, it sends a strong signal to competitors and the rest of the market. To ensure real progress here, we need wide-scale changes and not just induvidual flagship projects. I am delighted that ALDI North engages in open dialogue with us about this issue and serves time and again as a catalyst for change, both nationally and internationally.”
Director, Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt and board member, Compassion in World Farming
For a selection of the animal welfare measures at ALDI North in the different countries, visit:
Quality label for better animal husbandry and slow-growing chickens
In the Netherlands, the “Beter Leven” label is a sign of better conditions under which chickens and pigs are kept. The animals have more space and can pursue their natural needs. Under the standard, products are awarded one to three stars – depending on how animal friendly the practices are for keeping animals. Our goal: for all of our products containing raw materials of animal origin to have at least the one-star “Beter Leven” quality label.
In addition, ALDI Netherlands has decided to rely on a slow-growing chicken breed. This benefits the animals, as it means fewer health problems due to breeding. The animals also have more light and space. Their feed includes responsibly cultivated soya. In late 2016, we replaced our entire product range of fresh chicken meat in the Netherlands with meat from this slower growing breed – or with meat that meets the criteria of the one-star “Beter Leven” quality label.
Bye-bye battery eggs
The rearing of laying hens in conventional (“non-enriched”) cages has been banned in the European Union since 2012. However, it is still permitted to rear them in “enriched” cages and to import eggs laid by hens kept in battery cages from non-EU countries. ALDI North has set itself the goal of categorically dispensing with battery eggs by 2025 at the latest. Battery eggs have already no longer been sold in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands for several years now. We will achieve this goal in Denmark in 2018, while we are scheduled to do so in France, Portugal and Spain by the end of 2020.
We are even going one step further by increasingly dispensing with the use of battery eggs in processed own-brand products in many countries. In Germany, we intended to make this a reality by 2021, but have already done so in 2018. The international animal welfare organisation known as Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) presented us with the Good Egg Award in 2016 for setting this goal. What is more, at ALDI Belgium, already 95 per cent of the own-brand products containing eggs are made without battery eggs. At ALDI France, we will be banning battery eggs in our egg products starting in 2020, and plan to do the same at ALDI Portugal by 2025.
“We are thrilled that such an important food retailer like ALDI North is setting a good example and standing up for better welfare conditions for chickens.”
Dr Tracey Jones
Director of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming
Variety in the pigsty
Pigs are smart, curious and social creatures; they play a lot and explore their surroundings. There is little room to meet these needs when it comes to industrial fattening cages. We aim to gradually change this and are taking different steps to this end. ALDI Denmark, for example, is using the “Bedre Dyrevelfærd” (Better Animal Welfare) government label. For products bearing this label, the animals are given more straw to root and build nests. They also have more space to move about and cultivate social ties.
Plenty of fresh grass for dairy cows
The fresh, saline pastures of Schleswig-Holstein’s North Sea coasts are where the cows graze that provide the milk for our Meierkamp meadow-grazed milk in Germany. This milk comes from animals that spend six hours or more out in the pasture for at least 120 days a year. The cows’ diet is supplemented only with GMO-free feed. The farmers from our selected dairy farms have pledged to meet these conditions for the premium standard of the animal welfare label. Among other aspects, this includes year-round access to an outdoor exercise area.
In addition, we only use milk from dairies that are not located farther than 40 kilometres away from Schleswig-Holstein’s North Sea coast, since short transport distances to the dairy are better for the environment. Meadow-grazed milk and dairy products are also part of the standard product range at ALDI Netherlands.
Products and methods we have dispensed with
We are increasingly shaping our product range according to animal welfare criteria, which is why we clearly specify which resources and practices we accept (refer to the National Animal Welfare Purchasing Policies).
Joining forces for greater animal welfare
Many parties are involved – whether directly or indirectly – in producing products of animal origin. To make lasting improvements to the animals’ welfare, we all have to act in concert, which is why we are turning to partnerships and dialogue with suppliers, farmers, associations and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in every country.
In Germany, one of our partners is the German Animal Welfare Federation (Deutsche Tierschutzbund – DTSchB), whose seal customers will find on certain certified consumer milk products at ALDI. Depending on the region, the products meet the requirements for the entry or premium standard of the “Für Mehr Tierschutz” animal welfare label. What does this mean for the dairy cows? It means more room, for example. Every cow is provided with a cubicle strewn with straw, always one feeding place and at least six square metres in the open pen. Joining this is hoof care performed at least once a year and measures for greater cow comfort, such as brushes. The cows also receive only GMO-free feed. The premium standard includes continuous access to the exercise area and, during the grazing period, to a pasture. While there are no specific legal requirements governing conditions for keeping dairy cattle, the label sets clear standards. For us, the partnership with the German Animal Welfare Federation marks a milestone on our path to greater animal welfare that is both permanent and applies to as many animals as possible.
Example: Meierkamp’s “Frische Alpenmilch” (fresh Alpine milk)
Together with 80 farmers, one dairy and the German Animal Welfare Federation, we are working in a spirit of partnership on establishing better standards for keeping dairy cattle.
A look into the barn
The ALDI Transparency Code (ATC) creates transparency for our customers at the stores about the origin of various products. In the Netherlands, we also provide our customers with the opportunity to look into the barns on the ATC platform. In videos about the farms, we show customers how the animals are kept and what animal welfare aspects the operations observe.
Watch this video to find out how we ensure the quality of goods during the production process:
“ALDI North is very transparent about where products of animal origin come from. As a result, the Group meets one criterion that is particularly important for a quality label like the ‘Beter Leven’ label.”
Marijke de Jong
Programme Manager of the “Beter Leven” quality label for the Dutch association for the protection of animals
Our purchasing policies: commitments
Through our purchasing policies, we create binding standards for the manufacture of our products, which extend to animal welfare as well. Since early 2016, our International Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy has served as the framework for the entire Group. It pertains to all products in our food and non-food own brands that contain raw materials of animal origin. In our purchasing policy, we specify what requirements we place on crafting a product range focused on animal welfare, as well as on transparency, traceability, checks and audits. It codifies our desire to increasingly expand our commitment to animal welfare and to actively participate in an industry-wide dialogue. In recent years, we have also adopted a number of national purchasing policies to carve out country-specific requirements. We have done so in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg and – most recently in early 2018 – in Portugal and France as well. Spain will follow suit this year.
Judges that scrutinise apples and cucumbers? They really exist! Experts on freshness, they play an important role in meeting our customers’ high expectations.
A clear signal when it comes to fishing: ALDI Poland was an official partner of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) anniversary campaign in 2017. A great opportunity for sharing information about sustainable fishing methods and the MSC label.
And how can we make lasting improvements in cultivation on a wide scale? In the Netherlands, we are finding the answers in a joint project with suppliers and producers.
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.
We know that there is still a lot to do when it comes to animal welfare, but we are on the right track, as confirmed by two recent publications on commitment to animal welfare in the food industry
It all started in 1913 with a small food store in Essen-Schonnebeck. Today, customers can turn to 2,249 ALDI North stores in the ALDI North sales region. One of our focal points in Germany is improving animal welfare.
Our Danish customers value environmentally friendly and local products highly. ALDI Denmark added 32 new organic products in 2017 and significantly increased the proportion of certified fish products