REWE Group Sustainability Report 2018

Animal Welfare

The keeping and use of animals plays a significant role in both food retailing and the tourism industry. Livestock farming is a major branch of agricultural production because animal products such as meat and eggs are an integral part of people’s diets. At many holiday destinations as well, interaction with animals is part of the local recreation offering. Often, however, the animals suffer from poor living conditions or handling that is not appropriate to the species. The resulting impact may not be evident to tourists at first glance. The current societal debate about animal welfare indicates a heightened level of interest among consumers and holiday makers in a species-appropriate keeping of animals, and REWE Group stakeholders also view this matter as highly relevant for the company (for more information see the section Materiality Analysis). Protecting the animals from abuse and preserving their natural habitats are part of this complex of issues.

To permanently integrate sustainability into its company processes, REWE Group has developed an all-encompassing sustainability strategy that is made up of four main pillars: Green Products; Energy, Climate and the Environment; Employees; and Social Involvement. The Green Products Strategy 2030 was adopted in 2017 in a move to more strongly anchor sustainability within procurement processes. In the action areas of ethical business practices, animal welfare and conservation of resources, the trade and tourism company designs effective measures to reduce environmental and social impacts as part of the Green Products commitment. Animal welfare is recognised as an area of action in which goals include implementing binding standards jointly with our business partners and suppliers and promoting dialogue between all partners to eliminate negative impact on animal welfare.

GRI FP10: Physical alterations of animals

Management Approach

The REWE Group has adopted Guidelines for Sustainable Business Practices to promote compliance with and improving of animal welfare standards and further the protection of kept animals. To fulfil these aims, in 2015 REWE Group published a position paper called the Animal Husbandry Mission Statement outlining the overarching goals of the REWE Group in respect of more sustainable keeping of animals. This mission statement sets out the range of requirements that must be addressed as part of sustainable agriculture. In addition to animal welfare, these requirements comprise environmental and climate protection, resource efficiency, food safety and profitability. The REWE Group mission statement also defines values to be upheld as a company committed to animal welfare which are oriented around the Five Freedoms for responsible animal husbandry outlined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council of the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

  1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from fear and distress
  4. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  5. Freedom to express normal behaviour

The mission statement is designed to promote the enhancement of ongoing projects and requirements. As part of this work, the company plans to issue guidelines about specific husbandry and management systems that include corresponding requirements.

In December 2016, REWE International AG issued its own Guidelines for Animal Welfare outlining the primary measures and areas of action for Austria.

To fulfil the aim of ensuring animal-friendly offers, in 2017 DER Touristik, as well, adopted binding Guidelines on Animal Welfare. As a responsible tour operator that is committed to sustainable activities, DER Touristik has made the protection of nature and animals a high priority. For this reason, the company primarily supports travel experiences that focus on watching animals in their natural habitat. The goal behind this Guideline for Animal Welfare, which governs the approach to tourism products that include interaction with animals, is to have reviewed and gradually modified all offerings of DER Touristik in which animals are used to entertain tourists by the year 2020. Offers that do not comply with DER Touristik’s Guideline for Animal Welfare will be removed from the programme or replaced with more animal-friendly alternatives where possible. Sale of offers such as elephant riding and elephant shows, dolphin swimming, walks and selfies with wild cats as well as bear shows under the German tour operator brands have been stopped. To ensure that the defined animal protection criteria and recognised standards are applied, the animal sites will undergo independent audits. DER Touristik has also pledged to inform its customers about the appropriate way to deal with animals and about animal-friendly tourism opportunities.

In recognition of the company’s responsibility, DER Touristik will be building upon the Guidelines for Animal Welfare adopted in 2017 and expanding their applicability to include the entire DER Touristik Group in 2019. This involves a comprehensive Group strategy and an action plan with binding measures. The Group’s entire product portfolio is to be fully modified to uphold animal welfare standards by 2022. Following elephants, the next step is to focus on facilities for and offers involving marine mammals.

REWE Group has developed three separate approaches for implementing measures supporting the entire REWE Group’s commitment to animal welfare in a structured fashion, so as to reduce harm to animals:

  1. Internal management, through training of purchasers, for example
  2. Supply chain management, through requirements for suppliers and by conducting projects, for example
  3. Stakeholder management, by participating in and playing an active role in industry initiatives, for example

Projects and Measures to Improve Animal Welfare

REWE Group has been working intensively to promote more animal welfare for years. Many measures are carried out in PRO PLANET projects, among other places. In one such project, the feeding and husbandry conditions for chicken and laying hens were improved. The company’s work also focuses on the production of pork, turkey and rabbit meat as well as fresh milk. A key focus of the company’s commitment to animal welfare is painful procedures performed on animals, including the castration of piglets and the trimming of laying hens’ beaks. REWE Group has set challenging goals related to ending such practises. Measures are specifically designed based on the particular animal type and livestock farming conditions to take account of differing circumstances in the various value chains.

REWE Group employs three approaches for implementing specific animal welfare measures, as described below:

1. Internal management

REWE Group is working to further integrate sustainable procurement into its purchasing processes so as to ensure that sustainability considerations are taken into account in every purchasing decision. REWE Group employees receive regular training about relevant animal welfare issues which are to be considered accordingly in selecting suppliers and in the purchasing process.

2. Supply chain management

Germany and all other countries that serve as potential suppliers for animal-source raw materials have developed regulations governing livestock management practices. REWE Group only accepts those partners who completely fulfil the legal requirements in their home country to form part of the company’s supply chain. These requirements are often not stringent enough however, which is why REWE Group is additionally involved in numerous projects for improved living conditions for farmed animals. In 2018 REWE and PENNY introduced a four-tiered model in Germany for labelling products in accordance with the livestock farming conditions in order to heighten transparency. This is intended to enable shoppers to see at a glance the conditions under which the animals are kept for the store brand fresh meat products at REWE and PENNY. From April 2019, this labelling scheme will be replaced by a uniform system for designating livestock farming conditions to be implemented by all food retailers participating in the Animal Welfare Initiative (ITW). For further information and specific descriptions of the individual projects see the section Livestock Farming Conditions.

Projects and measures for improving living conditions for farmed pigs:

  • Action against piglet castration without anaesthesia
  • Projects opposing piglet tail docking

Projects and measures to improve living conditions for farmed chicks and hens:

  • Action to eliminate the slaughtering of chicks (Spitz & Bube, HerzBube and SELEGGT)
  • Early feeding: Improving living conditions for newly hatched chicks
  • Eliminating cage-keeping and beak trimming of laying hens

Projects and measures to improve living conditions for farmed cows:

  • Marketing of milk and cheese from pasture-grazing cows; milk bearing the “For Greater Animal Welfare” label of the German Animal Welfare Federation
  • Marketing of Allgäuer Hofmilch bearing the “Animal welfare-controlled” seal of approval of the organisation FOUR PAW.

Projects and measures to improve the living conditions for farmed turkeys, rabbits and buffalo:

  • Support with breeding of a new breed of turkey
  • Switching from cage keeping to the free-range model for broiler rabbits
  • Implementing livestock farming requirements for buffalo

Fresh Milk and Meat/Sausage Products Bearing the Animal Welfare Label of the German Animal Protection Federation

The German Animal Welfare Federation has introduced a transparent, science-based labelling scheme in the interest of increasing animal welfare. The scheme involves two tiers identifying products of animal origin subject to animal welfare standards. REWE stores have been selling pasture-grazed and fresh milk bearing the animal welfare label throughout almost all of Germany since September 2018 under the REWE Beste Wahl store brand. PENNY stores are also planning to carry milk bearing the animal welfare label in 2019. Additionally, since the end of 2018, all PENNY stores have carried sausage products made from the pig breed Teutoburger Hofschwein, and 550 PENNY stores have carried additional meat products bearing the “For Greater Animal Welfare” label of the German Animal Welfare Federation. REWE and PENNY are thus supporting an animal welfare initiative across the entire trade sector, purchasing from more sustainable suppliers with increased transparency for the consumer.

Active for Elephant-friendly Animal Touristic Facilities

DER Touristik introduced a range of animal welfare measures in 2017 focused on elephants. Solutions for recreational activities with elephants were worked on in collaboration with the combine’s own destination agency Go Vacation Thailand. As a first step, DER Touristik began monitoring provider compliance with animal welfare standards via external auditing. Activities such as elephant rides and entertainment shows have been removed from the programme. Today, DER Touristik collaborates with a few local providers, working with them to improve standards and make them more aware of the issues at play.

DER Touristik is also cooperating with the animal welfare non-profit World Animal Protection and other industry organisations in a working group entitled the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism (CEWT). A business model has been developed for constructing elephant-friendly facilities. The aim is to develop two elephant facilities in conformance with established standards and stimulate demand for elephant-friendly touristic facilities. The first converted camp is slated to open in early 2019.

DER Touristik Raising Awareness with Chili Against Elephants

As part of the work done by the non-profit organisation DER Touristik Foundation e.V., DER Touristik supports the project Chili Against Elephants. The conflict between wild animals and human beings is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as populations grow and as people migrate to regions bordering on nature conservation areas. Elephants frequently destroy the annual harvest of entire villages and are often killed as a result. A sensitisation campaign is to raise the awareness level of people in Tanzania about the promotion of ecological habitats and biodiversity. There is one simple way to solve the conflict with elephants: The animals have a strong sense of smell and stay away from chili plants. By surrounding crops with so-called chili fences, about 75 per cent of the original damage can be avoided. The local population is taught how to grow and maintain the chili fences. The work being carried out with the project partners Upendo e.V. and the PAMS Foundation is helping both animals and people, as it can ease the conflict over living space and habitat.

3. Stakeholder management

The challenges associated with handling sustainability risks often lie in global trade structures and are influenced by political and social conditions. REWE Group thus remains in close contact with its relevant stakeholders, such as suppliers, scientific organisations and NGOs, in implementing animal welfare measures.

Improving Animal Welfare Standards Across the Industry: The Animal Welfare Initiative

As a charter member of the Animal Welfare Initiative, REWE Group works to improve industry-wide animal welfare standards. This alliance of representatives from farming, the meat-packing industry and food retail is striving to create a more animal-conscious form of meat production. Participating German food retailing companies donate 6.25 cents to the Animal Welfare Initiative for each kilogram of pork and poultry they sell. These contributions generate about 130 million euros annually. The money is available to finance animal-welfare measures that extend beyond legal requirements. As a result of the participation of more than 5,700 farms, husbandry conditions for more than 447 million pigs, chickens and turkeys were improved in 2018. Companies participating in the Animal Welfare Initiative are audited semi-annually, with one announced audit and one unannounced audit. Almost 20,000 audits have been carried out thus far, which have shown that the broad majority of farmers have correctly implement the measures. Companies in breach of the requirements are subject to systematic sanctions.

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

Customer Health
and Product Safety

GRI 416

Promoting Sustainable Consumption

GRI 417

Child Labour
and Forced Labour

GRI 408, 409

Livestock Farming Conditions