Life circumstances and eating habits have changed continuously over the past decades. The traditional order of meals in the family home environment is losing importance: people are eating out more and more; food is available almost all the time and everywhere in this country. At the same time, digitalisation is changing the working environment – an increasing number of people are working at a desk and physical activity is decreasing. As a result, people today require less energy than previous generations. Since eating habits have mostly not been adapted, this has lead to imbalanced diets. As one of the leading food retailers in Europe, the REWE Group has around 73 million customers contacts a week in its supermarkets and discount stores – and thus a large lever to fulfil its social responsibility in terms of a balanced food offering.
In addition to people, animals and the environment, nutrition is an area of action within the Green Products Strategy 2030. The REWE Group's activities for this area of action aim to promote a diverse and healthy diet – by adapting products and raising awareness amongst consumers.
With consideration of nutrition, transparent information about the nutritional values of the products and adapting the product range play significant roles. With its private label products, the REWE Group has the opportunity to contribute to a diverse and balanced diet by adapting recipes in terms of nutrients such as sugar, salt, fat or saturated fatty acids.
All private label recipes were reviewed between 2018 and 2020. On the basis of this, more than 550 private label products have now been improved with regard to sugar and/or salt content. Therefore, the REWE Group has achieved its goal set for the end of 2020 of improving half of the recipes of relevant products. No alternative sweeteners or salt substitutes were used. The sugar or salt content of the products has been reduced gradually so that customers slowly get used to the new taste – less sweet and less salty. It should be noted that the private label product range of the REWE Group is constantly being revised: new products are added, others are discontinued. In light of this, the number of products in the range and its composition are not static. One of the first products was the REWE Beste Wahl chocolate pudding, where consumers were involved in deciding the reduced sugar content at the start of 2018. As a result, the pudding with 30 per cent less sugar than in the standard recipe was added to the product range. At the beginning of 2019, REWE customers were also involved in agreeing the sugar content of the product REWE Deine Wahl Triple Choc Granola and chose between three levels. With 61 per cent of the votes, it was also the product with 30 per cent less sugar which was chosen here and then put into stores. In the future too, the REWE Group plans to use the Nutri-Score to further improve private label recipes in terms of their sugar and/or salt content.
Clear labelling with the Nutri-Score
The Nutri-Score is nutritional information labelling which assesses ingredients such as calories, protein and fat as well as the share of fruit and vegetables in a food product and determines a value on the basis of these properties. The scale ranges from A (green) to E (red). A representative survey of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture conducted in 2019 revealed that the majority of consumers are in favour of labelling food with this Nutri-Score – because it is the most helpful and the easiest to understand. In order to help its customers make conscious food choices, the REWE Group began to introduce the Nutri-Score labelling for the first private label products in 2020. It started in June 2020 with over 50 permanently listed products in PENNY's organic private label Naturgut. In 2021, REWE also introduced the Nutri-Score to private label processed foods. In total, 1,641 REWE and 1,302 PENNY products had already started the labelling process by the end of 2021. It is gradually being expended to all private labels. See Goals. From 2021, the introduction of Nutri-Score labelling at REWE was accompanied by the dietary campaign “Leichter besser essen” (Eat better more easily) which shows that it is neither complex nor expensive to consciously opt for a better diet. For more information, visit the Nutri-Score website.
In 2021, the REWE Group set the goal of applying Nutri-Score labelling to all private label products of REWE and PENNY in Germany by mid-2023 in order to make progress in the area of action of nutrition visible. An intermediate goal is to reach 80 per cent by mid-2022. The goal is to continue with the improvement of sugar and salt content already achieved in private label recipes.
Increase in Nutri-Score labelling for relevant* private label products at REWE and PENNY in Germany to 80% by mid-2022 and 100% by mid-2023
Goal not attained
Not relevant are mono-products, such as rice, potatoes and flour and products that do not have added sugar or salt, such as mineral water, cooking oil or vinegar.
Measures and projects to promote a balanced diet
Through a variety of projects, the REWE Group is working to promote a balanced diet. In addition to adapting the product range, raising awareness amongst consumers and providing them with information for a healthy and balanced diet are also the focus of activities by the REWE Group.
Commitment to educational campaign on healthy nutrition and exercise
As a charter member and former member of the Management Board of the group “5 am Tag” (5 a Day), the 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.
Promoting a healthy diet for children
In some regions of Germany, the REWE sales line is supporting nutrition workshops carried out by the provider expika. The workshops are designed to motivate children in day-care centres and to help them to playfully learn about healthy diets. For this purpose, digital media is also used during the daily training course. Nutrition workshops supported by the REWE Group are already in their twelfth year. Due to the corona pandemic, only 432 workshops took place during the financial year for approximately 8,600 children.
The Power Kiste (Power Box) for a healthy start to the day
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. In 2021, 23 schools and over 1,400 children were receiving the boxes from Monday to Friday. In this way, more than 122,000 meals were provided in the 2020/21 school year. Due to school closures caused by the pandemic, the project had to be temporarily suspended.
11 additional schools are taking part in the “Power Kiste Light” (Power Box Light) project, in which they receive breakfast items offered by the REWE delivery service. Almost 15,000 children have received over 1.8 million breakfasts since the start of the project in 2009. The project is supported with donations from brands such as Chiquita, Danone, Ehrmann, FrieslandCampina, Mondelez, Nestlé, Unilever, Zentis, Henkel, Rügenwalder Mühle and Eurogroup (part of the REWE Group).
Targeted promotion of conscious diets amongst customers
In order to achieve long-term success, it is essential to increase consumers' knowledge of how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. The REWE Group uses its websites for this purpose. Here the company offers practical information about its private label products, their recipes, and the requirements for a balanced diet.
In order to provide its consumers with comprehensive information, the REWE sales line developed the campaign “Schon bewusst?” (Already conscious?) at the start of 2020, which was also continued in 2021. In addition to topics such as animal welfare and carbon dioxide emissions, focus was also placed on the importance of a healthy and varied diet. The campaign included presenting alternatives to products containing meat or sugar, providing tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, and explaining nutrients and ingredients.
In addition, the sales line offers a wide range of recipes for a balanced diet in the online recipe database REWE Deine Küche (REWE Your Kitchen). In addition to reduced-sugar, vegetarian and vegan cooking inspirations, consumers can learn about seasonal and conscious nutrition, food intolerances and the Nutri-Score. Many recipes also contain the ErnährWert value, which enables consumers to see at a glance how well the recipe meets the current recommendations of the German Nutrition Society. The calculation of the ErnährWert value takes the nutrients of a dish into consideration. These include all ingredients as well as differences resulting from the respective methods of preparation. Using a scale from one to ten, consumers are able to see how balanced a recipe is. The nutrition encyclopaedia also gives answers to questions about ingredients and additives as well as information on fats and oils.