Federal Environmental Agency counts supermarkets
The large German food retailers are already committed to sustainability in their operations, but the Federal Environment Agency sees potential that is not being fully exploited. There is a lot of catching up to do, for example when it comes to product range design.
Own organic brands, vegan offers, animal welfare initiatives: German supermarkets are already doing a lot to protect the environment and climate – but they are not yet making sufficient use of their influence and potential. This is the result of a study published by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which examined the sustainability of the eight top-selling food retail companies.
Specifically, these are Aldi Nord and Süd, Edeka, Kaufland, Lidl, Netto, Penny and Rewe. These eight companies account for around two thirds of all food retail sales, as the UBA explained.
According to the study, the food retail trade plays an “important role” in terms of assortment design and procurement policy. The companies have “a lot of influence – both on the production conditions and on consumer behavior,” argued UBA President Dirk Messner. As a result, they also bear responsibility for sustainability.
The study examined the environmental commitment in the areas of supply chains, own locations and consumption – the latter also includes the interaction with consumers. The supermarkets did well, among other things, in offering certified raw materials such as cocoa and coffee and in campaigns against food waste. In addition, 62 percent of sales with organic products are now achieved in conventional food retailing. There are also many projects that, for example, show the environmental costs in the prices.
Product placement a point of contention
However, the study sees a considerable need to catch up, for example in the design of the range – i.e. the sustainable purchase of products and raw materials – and in raising customer awareness of the topic of sustainability. It is about how the shops are designed and the products are placed and whether advertising motivates customers to make sustainable purchasing decisions.
Although there is “a lot of talk about environmental protection and sustainability, we often see the opposite when purchasing products, pricing or advertising, for example,” summarizes the UBA. One measure could be not to offer environmentally harmful products such as goods delivered by plane or to promote plant-based alternatives more than animal products. At the moment it’s the other way around.
The UBA also sees politics as having a duty. It must “create the appropriate framework conditions so that active and consistent environmental protection becomes a competitive advantage for companies”. For example, the reorientation of the VAT for food according to ecological criteria and minimum standards when shopping are conceivable.
The study was carried out by the Swiss Research Institute for Organic Farming (FIBL) on behalf of the UBA. The UBA is the central German environmental authority and belongs to the portfolio of the Ministry of the Environment.
Quelle: ntv.de, mba/AFP