Expanding its sustainable product range is one of REWE Group’s major strategic goals. In striving to achieve this goal, the company focuses on improving the social and environmental aspects of its products and services and on positively influencing value chains. As part of these efforts, REWE Group helps to protect and sustainably use the natural basis of life.
REWE Group works closely with its suppliers in the process and continuously refines the environmental and social requirements for its product ranges. Step by step, sustainability is joining freshness, quality and price as an important factor in the shopping process. The expansion of sustainable product ranges must be in line with demand by customers. REWE Group focuses its activities on its store brands, for which it plays a key role in product design. In systematically working to achieve its goals, REWE Group in Germany has developed a strategic approach that bundles the different approaches used for the pillar Green Products (see the Management Approach Green Products).
The relevant approaches being taken to create more sustainable product ranges are outlined below:
More information about collaboration with suppliers is available in the standards
REWE Group continuously works to expand the organic product ranges of its sales lines. With the Guideline for Ecological Products it approved in 2014, REWE Group formulated requirements for suppliers and companies that exceed organic standards like the EU organic farming label in many cases. More than 180 organic products sold by the REWE sales line are subject to the significantly stricter criteria of the organic agricultural association Naturland (2016: 150 organic products bear the Naturland logo).
In addition to organic products, local and regional suppliers play an important role at REWE Group. To consumers, this group of suppliers represents freshness, short transport distances, trustworthy production and support of local economies. REWE Group has markedly expanded its regional product range in recent years. The foundation of this effort is formed by long-term relationships of the REWE sales line with suppliers and direct marketers in the region as well as transparent, attention-grabbing communication about the special quality of these products to consumers for example by introducing the brand REWE Regional.
PRO PLANET represents one major goal of REWE Group: to make conventional products in the mass market more sustainable and to promote sustainable consumption among the general public. As part of its broad Green Products strategy, the company has devised the PRO PLANET process: With the PRO PLANET label, REWE Group provides its customers with a comprehensible and transparent guide to more sustainable products. In the process, it promotes increased sustainability in production and processing through specific PRO PLANET projects.
As a rule, the PRO PLANET process can be applied to all products of REWE Group. A specially modified process has been developed for the DIY business to cover intricately produced items like LED lamps that are frequently part of complex value chains. All products sold under the PRO PLANET label in DIY stores must go through this process or the original PRO PLANET system.
Every PRO PLANET project begins with careful analysis in which independent experts examine the entire life cycle of the selected product group. This analysis can identify problematic social or environmental impacts (hot spots). Product- and raw-material-related recommendations are developed for significant hot spots. These recommendations are carried out following a successful feasibility study during PRO PLANET projects. As an alternative, an existing label can be applied if the hot spot can be reduced or eliminated with it. The product will then bear both labels. For instance, store-brand chocolate bears both the PRO PLANET label and the UTZ or Fairtrade label for sustainable cocoa, seals based on conservation of resources and social criteria. If existing standards do not eliminate the hot spot, further steps must be taken before the PRO PLANET label is awarded.
The entire process is supported by an independent group of stakeholders: The PRO PLANET Board of Advisers was set up in 2009. It consists of five NGO experts who contribute their knowledge and approve the issuance of the PRO PLANET label. The board’s members get together up to six times a year during two-day meetings. In addition, REWE Group draws on the project-specific expertise of external partners during the issuance process.
The members of the PRO PLANET Board of Advisers during the reporting period were:
The label is designed to serve as a navigation system for more sustainable products. It provides information to customers about which hot spot was improved for each respective product. Additional information can be obtained by using a code number on the website www.proplanet-label.com. It describes the added value offered by PRO PLANET products and identifies the hot spots that were reduced or eliminated. The label applies for a period of three years. The project and associated measures then must undergo a review before the label is issued again.
The following seals are among the established labels used in the PRO PLANET process: ASC, Cotton made in Africa, Blauer Engel (Blue Angel), Fairtrade, FSC®, MSC, PEFC™, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, GOTS, VLOG and XertifiX PLUS.
Information on the development of PRO PLANET products is found under GRI FP2.
The guidelines of REWE Group represent an important instrument in the work aimed at making the supply chains of critical raw materials more sustainable. In these guidelines, REWE Group sets standards covering the supply of raw materials like cocoa, palm oil and fish. It also establishes a deadline for the transition to more sustainable raw materials. REWE Group had approved the following guidelines by the end of 2017:
Information on the status and goal achievement for the guidelines is available under GRI FP1.
The guidelines will be continue to be expanded in the years to come. Developments in the first half of 2018 included publication of the Guidelines for Textiles, which defines requirements for suppliers in the supply chain in terms of fairness, conservation of resources and animal welfare, and sets goals for implementation. In addition, REWE Group is working on creating a guideline for biodiversity.
Strategies that change entire sectors over the long term are required for many sustainability challenges in global value chains. This is why REWE Group plays an active role in sector initiatives and launches them itself on occasion. This multi-stakeholder approach is designed to include as many players as possible throughout value chains and to jointly create solutions that will lead to long-term positive developments throughout the supply chain.
REWE Group is an initiative partner of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) that was created in 2013. The forum’s mission is to strengthen demand for certified palm oil and to bring about long-term changes in the palm oil sector as a result. Members of the forum have committed themselves to using only sustainably certified palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives and distillates in their products. With the group’s founding in November 2015, REWE Group became part of the forum’s Steering Committee. It plays an active part in a working group that communicates the forum’s work and in a working group that is developing and implementing a project in producer countries. This is a partnership project between the forum and the Malaysian NGO Wild Asia, which will be implemented in 2018 and helps the partners in the producer countries to implement the forum’s supplemental criteria.
As a charter member of the multi-stakeholder German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, REWE Group joins other companies in supporting the PRO-PLANTEURS project, a joint, five-year cocoa programme being conducted in Côte d’Ivoire. The project strives to professionalise the work of 20,000 cocoa farmers, their families and producer organisations. The aim is to improve the lives of the families by boosting incomes and upgrading diets. So far, some 12,410 cocoa farmers and their families have participated in the project. The project is aimed in particular at women and young farmers with the goal of increasing the appeal of cocoa farming. In the future, the project will focus more on coaching cooperatives and farmers, with particular emphasis on financing and gender. The intention is for women in particular to be offered the opportunity to optimise their income. Women will also receive support in areas such as diversification in cultivation, production, processing and marketing. Specifically, 40 female members of the cooperative have been trained as advisers in so-called “Women’s Committees”. Acting as points of contact and role models, they will now bring their newly acquired knowledge and skills to their cooperatives.
In June 2015, REWE Group joined the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles. The multi-stakeholder initiative was started in October 2014 and works to bring about social, environmental and commercial improvements throughout the textile supply chain. As part of this work, an action plan outlining the process for reaching the alliance’s goals was approved. REWE Group is a member of the working group on chemical and environmental management, one of three professional committees in the group. As an alliance member, REWE Group has developed an ambitious roadmap for 2017 that contributes to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives. In addition, all alliance members are working in 2017 to implement their individual goals and to release progress reports in 2018.
DER Touristik joined Futouris, the sustainability initiative of the German travel and tourism industry, in 2015. The organisation’s primary objective is to promote destinations over the long term by supporting environmental, biodiversity and corporate responsibility projects on behalf of society and culture. During the reporting period, DER Touristik was actively involved in three initiative projects: It teamed up with Futouris, the organisation “United Against Waste e.V.” and other member companies in an industry project on preventing food waste in hotels; selected hotels in Greece, Turkey and Italy were examined over a year to develop practical measures against food waste. The KAZA project is designed to develop a standard for sustainably operated lodges in the KAZA region of Africa (Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area). The project Green Travel Transformation is working to raise awareness levels about sustainable travel opportunities and make booking easier (for more information about this project, see GRI 417: Marketing and Labeling).
In June 2016, REWE Group became a member of the European Fruit Juice Platform and works to improve the social and environmental aspects of the industry’s supply chain. In addition, REWE Group works actively in a working group on orange juice from Brazil and has been a member of the steering committee since 2017.
REWE Group also plays an active role in other initiatives and campaigns:
In addition to its store brands, REWE Group is also committed to more sustainable branded products. This pledge is reflected in the Sustainability Weeks held at REWE Group each year. During defined campaign periods, the company increases advertising of the more sustainable products in addition to organising participatory activities in support of local food banks. A selection of these more sustainable branded products is offered each year as part of an online consumer voting campaign. REWE Group and the sustainability foundation Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis e.V. also present the German Sustainability Award in the category Germany’s Most Sustainable Products. When it comes to the nominations, REWE Group works together with the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) in Wuppertal. The institute evaluates the submitted products from an academic standpoint and examines product- and company-related sustainability performance. The products are then confirmed by the jury of the German Sustainability Award. The consumers vote for the winner. For more information about Sustainability Weeks, see GRI 417: Marketing and Labeling.