Lifestyles and eating habits have steadily evolved in recent decades. The classical domestic regimen of family meals is losing significance as people are increasingly eating away from home, with food being available virtually everywhere around the clock in Western countries. At the same time, digitalisation is changing the workplace, as more and more people are desk-workers and fewer engaging in physical labour. People today thus need less energy than previous generations, but eating habits did not change accordingly for the most part, leading to an unbalanced diet. As a leading European food retailer, the REWE Group generates approximately 74 million customer contacts per week at its supermarkets and discount stores, which presents a huge lever for meeting the Group’s social responsibility of offering a balanced range of foods.
REWE Group has developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy in an effort to make sustainability an integral part of procurement processes. The aim is to reduce environmental and social impacts of REWE Group within the framework of the Green Products pillar, in particular in the four action fields of business ethics, animal welfare, resource conservation and nutrition. Nutrition-related activities, including product modifications and consumer awareness communications, are aimed at promoting healthy, varied diets.
Modifying the product range is a significant factor in the area of nutrition. Through its store brand products, REWE Group is able to promote balanced and healthy diets by modifying recipes to improve nutritional value, such as sugar, salt, fat and saturated fatty acids.
Reducing the salt and sugar content of store brand products is the primary objective for REWE Group. The company has thus published a strategy paper outlining processes and goals for salt and sugar reduction. This strategy is aimed at achieving a 50 per cent or greater reduction in the salt or sugar content of relevant store brand products. To this end, the sugar and salt content of all products is to be studied in a review of the entire store brand assortment to be completed by 2020. After prioritising the product range, initial pilot product groups were defined in 2018 in which implementation is to take place. Going forward, newly listed products are also to be reviewed to assess the potential for reductions.
In 2018, already approximately 250 store brand products underwent optimisation for sugar or salt content. The recipes for over 700 items are currently under review.
REWE Group is working to promote balanced nutrition in an array of different projects. In addition to modification of the product range, REWE Group activities also focus on educating consumers and raising awareness about eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Responsible Structuring of the Store Brand Product Assortment
REWE Group is modifying the recipes of its store brand products in the interest of promoting balanced nutrition. These changes may however affect taste and other food properties, thus they must be implemented prudently and in phases, in dialogue with consumers. This approach is taken so that REWE Group can function as a partner vis-a-vis customers, rather than a ‘nanny’. These product-related measures are flanked by relevant communications and information via the available media channels.
Engagement in Educating on Healthy Diet and Exercise
As a charter member and member of the Board of Directors of the group “5 am Tag” (5 a Day), REWE Group encourages efforts to boost consumption of fruit and vegetables to five portions a day and to promote healthy diets for children. Together with other sponsors, including the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the company has been involved in encouraging people to eat more fruit and vegetables since 2000.
With the food bank group Tafel Deutschland e.V. and other partners, REWE provides participating schools with Power Boxes that contain an alternating range of foods selected by dietary experts to be used in preparing breakfast in the classroom. This enables children to get their day off to a healthy start. At the end of 2018, 14 schools and about 1,600 children were receiving the boxes from Monday to Friday. In this way, more than 230,000 meals were provided in the 2017/18 school year. The project is supported with donations by Chiquita, Danone, Ehrmann, FrieslandCampina, Mondelez, Nestlé, Unilever, Zentis as well as the REWE Group production operations Glocken Bäckerei and Wilhelm Brandenburg, among others.
To have a lasting impact, awareness has to be raised among consumers of what constitutes healthy, balanced nutrition. REWE Group makes use of its website to offer practical information about store brand products, what they are made of and what is required for a balanced diet. REWE Deine Küche recipes for balanced nutrition are also provided on the website, which include low-sugar recipes. Easy-to-understand nutritional tables and ingredient lists are printed for customers on the product packaging.
For further information, see the Projects and Sponsorships section.