Projects and measures
Traceability throughout the supply chain
We proactively support traceability so that we can guarantee that our products conform to the highest safety and quality standards. We take a number of innovative approaches in this connection. Since 2013, we have been working with other retailers, high-profile partners and the standardisation organisation GS1 Germany to develop an international, multi-industry solution. The aim is to establish seamless transparency with regard to the use of resources and the procurement of products.
In December 2013, we took the first step in Germany by launching a pilot project for the fish product group. The project centres on recording relevant data electronically, thereby significantly simplifying access to this information for everyone involved – we call it “Traceability in the Cloud”. All players in the supply chain record their data via a standardised interface – this begins with the fishing companies and extends to the processing firms, importers, exporters, distributors and retailers. Following on from this decentralised input step, the data is brought together via an integrated software platform. Finally, a special search engine allows all players to retrieve detailed information about individual batches. The whole system is based on open, international standards and can be used by large and small companies alike.
This data is also available to consumers, who can find out where and how the fish was caught using the barcode on the packaging or information on the invoice via the Internet platform www.ftrace.de or the smartphone application “follow METRO.”
In Germany, METRO GROUP already offers this traceability solution for fresh fish, for the frozen fish and fish delicatessen product groups as well as for meat. Having successfully completed the pilot project, we will now apply the system to further product groups such as fruit and vegetables in the medium term. Non-food products are also to be included. As well as this, we will gradually roll out this solution in other European countries in 2015.
METRO Cash & Carry has been offering fresh salmon with end-to-end traceability in all of its wholesale stores in China since 2013. Our sales line purchases the fresh fish from certified salmon farms in Norway, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the Faroe Islands and delivers it to China by air twice a week. This involves the use of a continuous cold chain that guarantees freshness, quality and safety. It also means that customers can trace the salmon’s origin and its entire transport route. To this end, the fish are tagged with barcodes that can be found on the labelling on their fins. The code can be scanned or inputted using devices in the wholesale stores, the website www.starfarmcc.com or a suitable smartphone application. In this way, customers have access to comprehensive information about the product – from rearing, processing and packaging to transport and sale.
Status – goal achievement
Status – measures
METRO GROUP is initiating and promoting the development of an international, multi-industry technical traceability solution that can be used for all products.
After successfully piloting the traceability solution for the fish and meat product categories at MCC in Germany and the subsequent roll-out, the traceability solution will be launched in other countries starting in early 2015.
The project will also be extended to other interested suppliers from selected product areas in 2015.
There are also a number of additional projects through which we encourage specific methods of catching fish. METRO Cash & Carry set the ball rolling in Cologne in March 2014 with the “À la ligne” project, through which the wholesaler actively promotes catching fish by line. This is a particularly sustainable and resource-friendly method, allowing specific fish types to be caught selectively with virtually no by-catch and without damaging the seabed. As well as this, exceptional freshness is guaranteed as the boats are at sea for no more than one day. They then deliver their catch directly to the processing companies or fish markets and the fish is dispatched on the same day. This means that it is available in German wholesale stores within 48 hours. At present, METRO Cash & Carry Germany offers 20 types of line-caught fish. In order to draw customers’ attention to these products, the fish are presented prominently in wholesale stores under the label “À la ligne”.
Sustainable product range
As a retail company, we aim to provide our customers around the world with safe, high-quality products and goods that have been produced by socially and environmentally sound means with a minimum of resources. Various labels are used to inform customers about the individual sustainability aspects of our products and to help them to make their decisions. Our sales lines’ product ranges include, for instance, fair-trade articles and food products that bear the European organic symbol. In Germany, products certified in accordance with the EU Regulation on organic farming accounted for around €96 million in sales at METRO Cash & Carry, Real and Galeria Kaufhof during the reporting period.
As well as this, our range includes products caught using eco-friendly fishing practices which preserve stocks. These can be readily identified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo. In the financial year 2013/14, our sustainable fish range in Germany consisted of 90 MSC-certified own-brand products and 775 brand-name articles, generating revenue in the region of €56 million.
Our sales lines also offer their customers a wide range of environmentally and socially responsible products in many other categories. These include, for example:
- Efficient electrical appliances with energy ratings from A+ to A+++
- Stationery complying with the Blue Angel ecological standards or using fibre from sustainable forestry
- Natural skincare products in accordance with BDIH and NATRUE standards
- Textiles made from organic cotton or from cotton complying with the “Cotton made in Africa” standard
Umbrella label “Natürlich Galeria”
At Galeria Kaufhof outlets, the “Natürlich GALERIA” (naturally GALERIA) label is used to denote products that have been manufactured in line with superior environmental and social standards. Our sales line introduced this label in autumn 2011 with a view to helping customers take a more sustainable approach to consumption. The label – depicting a green leaf and the words “Natürlich GALERIA” – is given to products that conform to a widely recognised standard. These include, for instance, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the natural skincare certification system NATRUE and the Blue Angel eco-seal. To help customers, the “Natürlich GALERIA” label is shown in the department stores’ advertising supplements, on signs throughout the sales floor and, in some cases, on the goods themselves. Some 13,600 products from our sales line’s product range – from children’s clothing and underwear to stationery and toys – now comply with one of these recognised sustainability standards. In September 2014, the sales line provided over 1,600 articles in the textiles category alone that were produced in accordance with the GOTS, Biore, Fairtrade or Bluesign standards or that were made out of organic cotton. The revenue that Galeria Kaufhof generated with these sustainable articles more than doubled between 2011 and the financial year 2014.
The outlet in Cologne Nippes district launched a three-week pilot project in October 2013 to draw customers’ attention to the label and substantially boost sales of sustainable products. This also aimed to test marketing and communication measures that could be used at other Galeria Kaufhof department stores. To this end, our sales line made increased use of marketing materials such as stickers and floor graphics in the departments, set up special sales and promotional areas for “Natürlich GALERIA” products and increased the relevant information available for customers at the point of sale. As a result, the department store in Cologne Nippes achieved its goal of doubling sales of “Natürlich GALERIA” products in October 2013. On top of this, the outlet’s commitment to sustainability was rated positively in customer surveys. In order to bring about this increase in sales and improved reputation at other locations as well, the Cologne Nippes store developed a set of recommendations relating to the pilot project. These include employee training, clear identification of own brands that comply with “Natürlich GALERIA” criteria and improved presentation of goods in the various departments.
Responsible shopping at Real
Customers will also find an extensive range of environmentally friendly and socially ethical products at Real hypermarkets. Our sales line’s product range includes, for instance, organic foods, a wide selection of fish and fish products with the MSC seal, paper and wooden products from sustainable sources as well as sustainable textiles conforming with the GOTS or “Cotton made in Africa” standard. A number of different certifications and labels guarantee that the articles have been inspected by independent organisations.
Real’s product range also includes items that bear the Fairtrade logo, which is only awarded to goods that are produced in strict adherence with demanding social criteria. For example, by paying a guaranteed minimum price above the global market price level, producers are guaranteed a higher, reliable income. Real supports fair trade and now stocks 60 articles bearing the Fairtrade symbol. By purchasing these products, customers are able to make a contribution to improving social conditions in the producing country.
Real is aiming to take another major step towards improved sustainability by gradually changing the ingredients used for all its own-brand products containing cocoa. It aims to switch exclusively to cocoa approved by the Rainforest Alliance, the Fairtrade organisation or the UTZ Certified programme for these articles by 2015. These certificates guarantee that the cocoa is produced in a way that benefits the farmers and protects the environment. Customers can already find sustainable chocolate products with the UTZ label at the company’s hypermarkets.
Real is also actively involved in improving animal welfare. Since January 2013, our sales line’s range has included poultry products bearing the official label of the German Animal Welfare Federation. This guarantees adherence to specific animal welfare standards that are not yet required by law. The label’s requirements relate to all stages of the animal’s life: from proper rearing and housing conditions to transport and slaughter. Products with this certification can now be found in around 200 Real stores.
Real also assumes responsibility in the way it puts together its range of textile products and is actively expanding the selection of sustainable products on offer. In January 2014, our sales line joined forces with the Augsburg-based textile company Manomama, which operates a consistently regional value chain, creates new jobs with transparent, fair working conditions and manufactures 100 per cent organic clothing. The products are made exclusively in Germany. Manomama-brand underwear and jeans made entirely of organic cotton can now be found in 50 Real hypermarkets. The company also produces organic cotton shopping bags for Real, thereby adding a further sustainable option to the retailer’s range of reusable shopping bags. Since back in 2011, the hypermarkets have offered their customers a loop-handle shopping bag made from recycled plastic which is certified under the Blue Angel scheme.
More sustainable product alternatives
In France, our sales line METRO Cash & Carry works closely with its suppliers with the aim of continually improving the sustainability of own-brand products in the interests of our customers, particularly with regard to product formulations. The main focus here is on products which contain palm oil or have a high sugar or salt content. METRO Cash & Carry compiled a list of these articles and asked suppliers to consider replacing palm oil or to reduce the levels of sugar and salt used. In cases where no alternative to palm oil was available, METRO Cash & Carry encouraged its suppliers to use sustainable palm oil. All new formulations and proposals were tested by our sales line to ensure a consistently high level of quality. In the financial year 2013/14, these joint efforts allowed around 219 tonnes of palm oil, 131 tonnes of sugar and over 1.2 tonnes of salt to be saved in the manufacture of own-brand products.
Energy-efficient and resource-friendly appliances
Our Media-Saturn and Real sales lines make a point of including energy-efficient and resource-friendly appliances in their product ranges. These include, for example, washing machines, dishwashers and fridge-freezers. 75 per cent of all washing machines sold by Media-Saturn are rated A++ or A+++. The proportion of A+++ washing machines sold at Media-Saturn in 2014 rose by 16 per cent year on year. Taking all product groups together, A++ and A+++ appliances made up just under 60 per cent of the retailer’s sales.
Employees explain the link between purchase price and cost savings from lower energy consumption to their customers by offering specialist advice backed up with guides to specific appliances. In this way, Media-Saturn and Real contribute to protecting resources and encourage shoppers to choose sustainable products.
Encouraging sustainable consumption
METRO GROUP actively helps consumers to opt for sustainable products. One way in which the sales lines do this is by labelling ethical products so that customers can identify them quickly. In addition to this, they systematically improve in-store product presentation, highlight products in their ranges which conserve resources and have good environmental and social credentials, and they provide information about various aspects of sustainability in their brochures and other advertising, on their websites and in external media.
In 2014, for instance, Real developed an extensive CR communication strategy and rolled out initial measures in all its hypermarkets. Central to this was the aim to cater for customers who wished to buy sustainable products. Our sales line approached this in a number of ways: at various points in store, customers are provided with information on sustainable products and their backgrounds. Posters and shelf talkers also help customers to spot ethical products; in addition, they are informed about the company’s commitment to sustainability via in-store TV and radio features. The Internet portal www.gesundheit.real.de and the quarterly brochure “Besser Leben” (Better living) also provide useful information on nutrition, exercise and health.
METRO Cash & Carry also proactively encourages customers to consider sustainability when making purchasing decisions. In France, for example, all of the wholesale stores support the “Mr. Goodfish” initiative launched by the World Ocean Network, which works to promote sustainable consumption of fish and fish products. The label “Good for the sea, good for you” is used on products that are especially environmentally and resource-friendly. Further information is available for customers in the form of a quarterly updated list of fish and fish products recommended by independent experts and a brochure that is available at the wholesale stores.
As well as its sales floor design and systematic product labelling, Galeria Kaufhof actively engages in employee communication on the subject of sustainability. To enable its sales assistants to answer customer queries more effectively, the company provided them with category-specific information on the various sustainability standards. In 2014, our sales line also published the sustainability brochure “Gemeinsam Verantwortung tragen” (Sharing responsibility). This gives an overview of the company’s various sustainability activities and aims to motivate employees to actively support these projects in their everyday work.