REWE Group Sustainability Report 2018

Customer Health and
Product Safety

Product safety and the health of customers are top priorities for the REWE Group in both trade and tourism – areas which have their own specific requirements and challenges. In trade, REWE Group is responsible for ensuring quality and the absence of health risks to customers. In the REWE Group travel and tourism business, the primary objectives are to ensure safety and maintain the trust of travellers. This includes having comprehensive crisis management and security management regimes in place in both the destination country and the home country.

416: Customer Health and Safety

Management approach to trade

To ensure the quality and safety of its products, REWE Group has introduced a comprehensive, cross-stage quality management system that extends along the entire value chain in its core business of trade. This system involves preventative measures such as systematic issue monitoring, warehouse and market controlling as well as supplier auditing. A system of key performance indicators introduced in 2010 makes compliance with legal and company quality standards more measurable and transparent. The key performance indicators, including the results of external microbiological analyses or rates of complaints, are prepared every six months, evaluated and published in the management report of REWE Group’s quality management.

Store brand products are a special focal point of quality management: The combine defines special requirements for the products and suppliers to meet in all steps along the value chain – from raw materials and recipes to labelling and packaging. The content of these specifications forms the basis for regular spot checks conducted by independent, accredited testing institutes. The spot checks are determined on the basis of supplier and product risk. Foods like fresh fruit and vegetables are thus inspected more frequently than salt or sugar, for example. REWE Group has a Chemical Plant Protection Status Report prepared annually for fruit and vegetables. Prepared by the Austrian environmental organisation GLOBAL 2000 since 2009, these reports show a steady reduction in chemical pollution versus base year 2009.

In addition to the products themselves, other links in the value chain are examined: All store brand suppliers in the Food area have to be certified under a standard recognised by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), such as IFS Food or the standard of the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Furthermore, REWE Group conducts additional supplier audits on the basis of a risk analysis. These risk analyses involve evaluating a number of key performance indicators like dissatisfaction with products, customer complaints and the risk classification of the product group. Manufacturers and suppliers who fail to meet REWE Group’s quality standards are asked to remedy the situation. Otherwise, they face the possibility of being delisted.

Annual audits of the company’s warehouses are conducted by internal auditors as well as by independent external organisations. All areas of the warehouse are included in these audits, from goods receipt to transport to stores. In addition, special audits are conducted in warehouses focused on compliance with quality guidelines for fruit and vegetables.

Regular internal and external inspections are also conducted in REWE Group’s food stores. The external inspections are conducted on the basis of checklists prepared by QS Qualität und Sicherheit GmbH, Bonn, with a focus on meat, meat products, fruit, vegetables and potatoes. Products produced in REWE stores themselves, including ground meat (at the service counter) or fruit and convenience products are subject to microbiological monitoring. These samples are examined by independent laboratories.

GRI 416-1:

Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories

As part of its quality management, REWE Group systematically conducts health and safety audits through the entire product life cycle.

Significantly fewer external market audits were carried out in the financial year. This was due to transitioning over to a new auditing concept for the PENNY sales line. Comprehensive testing of this concept was completed in 2018, thus the number of audits carried out should rise again in 2019.

Increased auditing of products prepared in stores is linked to a significant increase in the number of samples taken in the area of Convenience fruit and vegetables.

Health and Safety Audits (Absolute Figures)

2016 2017 2018
Supplier audits 446 465 665
Independent product tests of store brands 43,274 45,077 45,282
External warehouse audits 92 91 99
External store audits 3,433 3,152 1,494
Tests of products prepared in stores 8,149 8,566 12,982
Total number of inspections 55,394 57,351 60,522

All figures apply to REWE Group in Germany. In addition, the results are reviewed by external control organisations (IFS, QS GmbH, etc.).

GRI 416-2:

Incidents of non-compliance concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services

In 2018, there were 17 public recalls of store brand products in Germany, and eight in Austria. An incorrect declaration was the reason for two recalls, both in Germany and Austria: In Germany, an incorrect back label was used and one item was filled with the wrong content. In Austria, allergens had not been declared. The reason for ten recalls in Germany and four in Austria was foreign matter. Another five recalls in Germany and two Austria were due to microbiological deviations or contaminants. After the public recalls, the suppliers concerned were audited by external experts commissioned by Quality Management. The purpose of these audits was to review measures taken by the companies to avoid such deviations to the extent possible.

The public recalls carried out were individual cases. No trends among product groups or suppliers could be found. In every case, customers were able to return the product and get their money back.

GRI 416: Customer Health and Safety

Management approach to tourism

The Department of Crisis and Safety Management at DER Touristik is responsible for traveller well-being in emergency situations. During crises like natural disasters, accidents or terrorist attacks, Help Teams go into action. The specially trained team members take care of the safety of and provisions for travellers and employees at the particular site. The team members provide affected travellers with on-site assistance, acting as liaison with Crisis and Safety Management in Germany. The Crisis Management Centre coordinates the overall crisis response, organising transport to hospitals, alternative hotel accommodations or travel home as necessary. To quickly reach mission locations, the Help Teams are based at a number of different places, including Bangkok, Miami and Costa Rica.

The Crisis and Safety Management office is based at the headquarters of DER Touristik in Frankfurt. As part of crisis-prevention work, employees there monitor developments in travel regions around the clock. If one of the team’s early-warning systems raises an alarm, steps can be quickly taken to manage the crisis. These steps include crisis hotlines for direct contact with affected individuals and close working relationships with destination agencies, government authorities, airlines and airports. Another focus is ensuring an up-to-date and qualified flow of information for all affected individuals and the general public.

Continuous advanced training of relevant employees is another important aspect of crisis management. This involves training for employees of travel agencies as well as training of Help Team members. In 2016, the programme comprised 27 crisis and safety training courses that were developed individually for sales. In 2017, the programme was expanded to include training on the duty to maintain public safety as well as safety for agencies and travel guides in the destination areas. Crisis management handled 329 crisis events in 2018.

Further topics in this area:

Product-related Risk Analyses

GRI 102-11

Regional Products

GRI 204-1

Raw Materials in Focus – Food


Raw Materials in Focus – Non-food







GRI 301


GRI 304

Ecological Impacts
Within the Supply Chain

GRI 308

Social Issues
in the Supply Chain

GRI 412, 414

Promoting Sustainable Consumption

GRI 417

Animal Welfare


Child Labour
and Forced Labour

GRI 408, 409

Livestock Farming Conditions