REWE Group Sustainability Report 2019

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. And at many holiday destinations, the interaction with animals is also a 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 discussion in society about animal welfare shows that consumers and holidaymakers now care a lot about how animals are kept – the stakeholders of REWE Group also regard the topic as especially relevant for the company (for more information, see 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 areas of action of people, animals and the environment, the trade and tourism company develops effective measures to reduce environmental and social impacts as part of the Green Products commitment. The aim of the action area of animals is to implement binding standards together with business partners and suppliers and encourage dialogue between the partners to counteract the negative effects with regard to animal welfare.

GRI FP10: Physical alterations of animals

Management Approach

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. In line with this commitment, REWE Group published the Guidelines for Animal Welfare in 2019. This replaces the mission statement titled “Animal Husbandry of the Future” from 2015 and documents the attitude of REWE Group with regard to animal welfare and defines goals and measures for individual types of farmed animals. The guidelines outline the range of requirements that sustainable agriculture must address. In addition to animal welfare, these requirements comprise environmental and climate protection, resource efficiency, food safety and profitability. It is a binding framework for business partners and stakeholders of REWE Group and defines the demands the company places on more sustainable production of products from animal origin.

REWE Group bases its actions on the prevailing concept “Five Provisions & Welfare Aims”. It was derived from the “Five Freedoms” from the British Farm Animal Welfare Council, corresponds to the current state of the art and envisages extensions when new scientific findings become known:

  1. Positive mental experiences
  2. Good environmental conditions
  3. Good health
  4. Good nourishment
  5. Behaviour appropriate to the species

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 collaboration, through training of purchasers, for example
  2. Collaboration within the supply chain, through requirements for suppliers or carrying out projects, for example
  3. Collaboration with stakeholders, by taking part and collaborating in industry initiatives, for example

In 2016, REWE Group in Austria published its own Guidelines for Animal Welfare which describe the important measures and areas of action for Austria.

To fulfil the aim of ensuring animal-friendly offers, in 2017, DER Touristik also adopted binding Guidelines on Animal Welfare. These were expanded to cover the entire DER Touristik Group in 2019. The guidelines include 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. DER Touristik pursues the goal of protecting animals against exploitation and neglect. Together with experts and participants from the industry, DER Touristik is working towards improving standards for protecting animals in the area of tourism, raising awareness about the topic among local providers and helping them design more animal-friendly facilities. The focus is on animals that are especially affected by tourism activities. To check that the requirements are fulfilled, selected attractions are reviewed in external audits according to specific criteria, based on the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism from the British travel association ABTA. For example, elephant rides and elephant shows have been removed completely from the programmes of DER Touristik operators. To help the providers improve the standards for animals, employees of DER Touristik, especially those in the worldwide destination agencies, are trained in this respect.

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. Important animal welfare aspects relate to painful procedures like castration of piglets and slaughtering male chicks. The measures and targets are tailored to the respective type of animal and the conditions under which they are kept so that the different circumstances of the different value chains can be taken into account.

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

1. Internal collaboration
The aim is to integrate sustainable procurement in the purchasing processes of REWE Group to take account of sustainability aspects in each purchasing decision. During this process, the company lays the foundation for concrete activities through strategic and organisational projects. For example, REWE Group contributes to internal awareness raising with providing risk analyses and briefings, coordinating binding targets with the procurement units and offering training for sustainability topics. Internal reporting enables continuous development within the individual sustainability issues. External communication creates transparency vis-à-vis stakeholders.

2. Collaboration within the supply chain
REWE Group addresses risks in the supply chain that are pertinent to the area of action of animals in a targeted fashion through systematic supply chain management, involving close cooperation with suppliers as well as commitments on the production site and raw materials production levels. 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. To label the products in accordance with the farming conditions and create transparency, in 2019 a four-level, industry-wide labelling system was introduced for farming conditions. Customers can immediately see the criteria under which the animals of the store brand fresh meat products of REWE and PENNY were farmed. For more information and a detailed description of the individual projects, see Livestock Farming Conditions.

Projects and measures for improving living conditions for farmed pigs:

  • Action against piglet castration without anaesthesia
  • Regional programmes for improved animal welfare, such as keeping animals in straw

Projects and actions to improve farming and living conditions for chickens and hens:

  • Preventing the slaughtering of chicks by rearing male chicks of laying hens (“Spitz & Bube”, “HerzBube”)
  • Preventing the slaughtering of chicks through gender determination (SELEGGT)
  • Early feeding: Improving living conditions for newly hatched chicks
  • Eliminating cage-keeping and beak trimming of laying hens

Projects and actions to improve farming conditions for dairy herds:

  • Marketing of pasture-grazed cow’s milk and dairy products, such as pasture-grazed cow’s cheese with the labels “PRO WEIDELAND” and “Weidemelk”
  • Marketing of milk and dairy products 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 PAWS

Projects and actions to improve farming conditions for turkeys, quails and buffaloes:

  • Use of a specially bred, robust organic turkey breed
  • Marketing of quail eggs from birds kept according to the “free to fly” principle
  • 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 introduced the milk with the label in 2019. Additionally, since the end of 2018, all PENNY stores have carried sausage products made from the pig breed Teutoburger Hofschwein, and 768 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

Since 2017, DER Touristik has been carrying out animal welfare measures with a focus on elephants. In the first step, all offerings that did not comply with the animal welfare guidelines were removed from the programme and compliance with animal welfare standards was reviewed with the assistance of external audits. Solutions for leisure activities with elephants were developed in collaboration with the group’s destination agency Go Vacation Thailand. Today, the group works together with local providers, who were audited extensively in 2019. Through the audits, awareness with regard to animal welfare was raised among the providers. Options for further improving animal welfare standards were also identified. 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 according to established standards and increase supply and demand for elephant-friendly tourist animal facilities. The first converted camp opened in early 2019. In the ChangChill camp in Thailand, visitors can observe the elephants in their natural surroundings from a platform. Direct contact is not permitted.

3. Collaboration with Stakeholders
The challenges associated with handling sustainability risks in the production of store-brand products often lie in global trade structures and are influenced by political and social conditions. An important starting point for identifying relevant issues and implementing the sustainability strategy is therefore good stakeholder management. To ensure and improve animal welfare standards, REWE Group holds discussions with suppliers and scientists and works together with various NGOs. These include ProVieh, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Contemporaries and the animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS.

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 food retailing companies in Germany 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 6,660 farms, husbandry conditions for more than 510 million pigs, chickens and turkeys were improved in 2019. Every company in the Animal Welfare Initiative is checked annually in a regular audit and in an unannounced audit. Companies in breach of the requirements are subject to systematic sanctions. In 2019, REWE Group signed the new agreements for continued participation in the Animal Welfare Initiative to the end of 2023. This involves increased animal welfare requirements for pig breeding, for example, with regard to the continuous availability of roughage.

More topics:

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

Environmental Aspects
in the Supply Chain

GRI 308

Social Aspects 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




Living wages and income

GRI 414


GRI 303