Promoting the use of sustainable products and services is an important part of REWE Group’s sustainability strategy. To make more sustainable product ranges a success, their social and environmental added value must be communicated to consumers in an understandable and credible manner. Consideration must also be given to the fact that other criteria like price, quality, packaging and freshness go into purchasing decisions as well. Retail has an important intermediary role to play in this context. Without adequate demand and willingness to pay on the part of the customer, responsible providers might quickly experience financial difficulties. And without a broad range of sustainable products, consumers are unable to act in an ethically responsible way. For this reason, REWE Group has committed itself to moving sustainability from a niche role and rather incorporating it as part of the mass market.
As part of its sustainability communication effort, REWE Group takes a number of different steps that are designed to facilitate informed purchasing decisions and to excite consumers about more sustainable products and services. The key principles of communications are credibility, transparency and messages aimed at specific target groups.
Sustainability Weeks are held in which several REWE Group sales lines explore the issue of more sustainable consumption with their customers in defined campaign periods within the overarching context of a societal issue, such as conscious eating, regionality and social involvement. Through this process, REWE Group creates awareness about sustainability in purchasing decisions and promotes responsible consumption among its customers. As in previous years, PENNY held three Sustainability Weeks in 2018. toom Baumarkt DIY stores also organised three Sustainability Weeks in 2018. The focus topics were species and insect protection and social responsibility issues (Fair Trees). At REWE Group in Austria, the annual Sustainability Weeks were conducted under the motto of “Blühendes Österreich” (Blooming Austria).
The REWE sales line communicates sustainability issues several times a year within sustainability campaigns. These issues are also addressed in REWE umbrella brand campaigns.
As part of its sustainability communication effort during the reporting period, PENNY also used the frog figure Günter Kastenfrosch invented by Janosch, a German author and illustrator of children’s books. Under the motto of “grün sparen” (the Green Way to Save), “grün genießen” (the Green Way to Enjoy) and “grün engagieren” (the Green Way to Get Involved), the cute sustainability ambassador provided clear, down-to-earth information about the ways that sustainability benefits the environment, society and customers themselves. An essential component of PENNY’s customer communications is the fight against food waste. For example, the discounter gives its customers tips on how to plan their shopping, how to store food correctly, and how best to use leftovers. Since late 2017, customers have been finding tips for storing their purchased foods on fruit and vegetable roll bags as well as bread bags from the bake-off counter. In the spring of 2018, a video on the subject of leftovers was made in cooperation with two popular YouTube bloggers targeting younger consumers as part of the Sustainability Week.
REWE made regionality one of the focus topics of a national campaign in Germany. The sales line offers more than 20,000 products from producers located in the region of the respective supermarkets. Customers were addressed with the slogan “Good for You and Your Region”. Some 50 different images of suppliers and topics were presented right in the relevant places for highlighting regionality and food origin. Customers were informed via all classic and digital channels in an integrated, twelve-week regionality campaign. A TV commercial visually communicated information about the regional cycle, tracing the path of fresh produce from the field to the store. The variety of products from the region was creatively highlighted in REWE stores in cooperation with regional producers and numerous local promotions were conducted. In a two-week promotion during this campaign, REWE donated two cents per REWE Regional fruit or vegetable product sold to the NABU Insect Protection Fund, of which REWE Group is a founding member. This enabled REWE to provide over 188,000 euros in donations for the protection of bees.
In 2018 REWE Group once again presented the German Sustainability Award in the category Germany’s Most Sustainable Products jointly with the sustainability foundation Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis e.V. Products were recognised which customers perceive as sustainable, buy and recommend. The award intends to inform the public about sustainability aspects of products and permanently establish more sustainable products in retailing. For the nominations, REWE Group worked with the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production in Wuppertal. The institute evaluated the submitted products from an academic standpoint and examined product- and company-related sustainability performance. The judging panel for the German Sustainability Award then confirmed the products and, finally, consumers chose the winners in online voting. First prize was won by Goldeimer toilet paper, manufactured by WEPA Hygieneprodukte GmbH, which is made of 100 per cent recycled paper and bears the Blue Angel seal for its more environmentally friendly production. Purchases of the product support sanitation projects of the drinking water-promoting charity Viva con Agua and the global famine aid organisation Welthungerhilfe conducted in countries with inadequate sanitation infrastructure. Also in the top three were the fresh mountain farm milk product of Berchtesgadener Land and organic yoghurt made by Andechser Natur.
In 2019 REWE Group and the sustainability foundation Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis e.V. will be jointly presenting a special award for the first time to recognise more sustainable product packaging ideas. The winner will be named on 22 November 2019 as part of German Sustainability Day in Düsseldorf.
REWE Group products are labelled in accordance with legal requirements regarding their origin, composition and usage, such as the product expiration date. REWE Group labelling of sustainability aspects of its products goes beyond the statutory requirements, providing detailed information on the origin of many products.
With its PRO PLANET process, REWE Group has created a systematic approach to clearly and transparently provide sustainability information on products. The PRO PLANET website includes additional information about individual products that can be directly accessed by entering a product-specific code on the label. The PRO PLANET label serves as a navigation system for consumers. For an overview of these products in the assortment and a description of the PRO PLANET process, see the section PRO PLANET).
In addition, REWE Group uses recognised external labels to mark its store brands and adds branded products with these labels to its assortments. These labels include the Blauer Engel (Blue Angel), Fairtrade, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC™), the Rainforest Alliance, the German Association of Non-Genetically Modified Foods (VLOG), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), GGN – certified aquaculture (GlobalG.A.P.) and UTZ. Organic and regional products also have their own labels. Nearly all fresh fish counters at REWE stores have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 2009 and by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) since 2012. To enable consumers to take informed buying decisions amid this maze of labels, REWE and PENNY have posted the most important information about the labels and certifications that they use on their websites (REWE; PENNY).
For its non-food products, REWE Group uses the TÜV Exklusiv seal that applies to the quality and safety of products. Every product certified by the technical services company is given an individual ID number that can be used to obtain additional information. By the end of 2018, some 1,700 products were certified under the TÜV Exclusive Seal.
toom Baumarkt DIY stores worked with the consumer group Verbraucher Initiative e.V. to develop a guideline for sustainability labels. The guideline is designed to provide customers with a map to more sustainable purchases and provides information about recommended labels found on products in the DIY store. The selection of labels is based on ratings by the consumer portal label-online.de. The guideline is distributed in stores as a printed leaflet and is available to download online at toom.de/nachhaltigkeit.
To provide travellers interested in sustainability issue with transparent decision-making assistance, DER Touristik is working on a strategy to clearly label sustainable travel opportunities. As part of this strategy, the various labels in the tour operators’ catalogues were consolidated under the internationally recognised, industry-wide Travelife sustainability seal. As part of the project Green Travel Transformation being conducted by the sustainability initiative Futouris, DER Touristik helped develop a uniform label that is recognised industry-wide for sustainable travel opportunities. This pilot project, which ended in April 2018, led to the creation of the data provider Green Travel Index, which collects and prepares data from recognised sustainability certificates. Starting in the winter of 2019, sustainability-certified hotels in catalogues of DERTOUR, Meiers, ITS and Jahn will be designated by a green leaf symbol. This denotes Travelife and other internationally recognised certifications. These hotels have agreed to uphold the environmental and social standards set by the Global Sustainability Tourism Council.
In addition to the designation in the catalogue, REWE Group plans to enable targeted online searching for sustainable hotels in 2019. These hotels are also designated by a green leaf symbol on the travel agency booking platform Bistro, and can be found by REWE Group travel agency staff for inclusion in sales consultations. From 2019, travel agency staff will receive specific training on sustainability and on advising on and selling sustainable products.
Many consumers want to know more about the origin of the products they buy. REWE Group responds to this wish by taking such steps as highlighting the origin of its regional products and having information about many products certified according to the criteria of the programme Regionalfenster (Regional Window) (see the section Regionality).
REWE Group introduced a tracking code for store brand fish products in 2012. With this code, consumers can go to the websites of the REWE and PENNY sales lines and learn about the supply chain of fish products. In addition, the first aquaculture products can be tracked online all the way back to the farming region. In all, 67 per cent of fish products bear the tracking code.
To increase transparency in banana supply chains as well, in early 2019 REWE Group introduced a QR code for REWE store brand bananas. This enables customers to trace the origin of the bananas back to the producer.
In 2014, the name of the actual production company began to be included on the store brand products sold by PENNY and REWE. This provides consumers with additional transparency about the supply chain. REWE Group continues to be listed as the production company in only a few exceptions, including the products of the brand Feine Welt that are made by small suppliers.
As a matter of principle, REWE Group advertises its products and services in strict conformity with legal requirements as well as with ethical and cultural standards. The Group expressly avoids usage of sexist, discriminatory, political, pornographic, extremist and violence-glorifying advertising. Truth, precision and transparency are the fundamental advertising principles observed by the company. In addition, REWE Group adheres to its own company-wide codes of conduct, regulations, guidelines and rules laid down by national advertising boards. To succeed, communications of sustainability issues require a significant amount of credibility. In its Guideline for Sustainable Business Practises, REWE Group expresses its explicit commitment to complying with applicable consumer-protection regulations and to employing appropriate sales, marketing and information practises in communications with consumers. To ensure that these factors are taken into account in advertising, the company’s ads are approved by the Sustainability department before being published.
There were no known significant violations in the 2018 reporting period.