German Supermarkets take radical milk change – Animal Welfare


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Rewe, Edeka and Netto are converting a large part of their milk range with Animal welfare is in the foreground.

Supermarket milk: Conscious shopping will be a thing in German supermarkets in 2022. Rewe, Edeka and Netto are introducing a label across the board that can make it easier for consumers to decide on more animal welfare. It is mainly about dairy products.


Rewe, Edeka and more are changing the labeling of dairy products

Customers who buy meat on a regular basis may be familiar with the following: The information on how the animals are kept, which is declared in four stages, also known as the animal welfare label. In spring 2019, some German supermarkets voluntarily committed to label meat from pigs and cattle.

Now some of the major German supermarkets want to extend the animal welfare labeling beyond meat: Rewe, Penny, Edeka and Netto will also label dairy products with a traffic light-like system in 2022.

German consumers are pleased: The vegan trend in Germany indicates that there is an interest in animal-friendly shopping.

How many people in Germany are vegans or vegetarians?

According to the Veganz Nutrition Study 2020, 2.6 million people across Germany – around 3.2 percent of the population – are vegan and around 3.6 million (4.4 percent) are vegetarian. Others, on the other hand, who opt for the Veganuary want to get a taste of this form of nutrition or simply eat a healthier diet with lots of fruit and vegetables for a while.

Rewe is leading the animal welfare charge in 2022

Photo Copyrights: ÖKO-TEST

Rewe’s organic fresh milk has been awarded the animal welfare label since January 1st. Since it is an organic product, the milk is level 4 and therefore promises the most animal welfare. But how good and transparent is organic milk really when it comes to animal welfare?

Further products are to follow in a few weeks, as announced by the Rewe Group. At the discounter Penny, too, some dairy products are to be given the label.

Rewe is focusing 2022 on reliability and transparency by introducing cross-company labeling for the important product group of milk and dairy products from next year.

How did Rewe’s organic fresh milk get a level 4 rating?

In addition, when testing organic milk , the Öko-Test auditors also focused on animal welfare . For example, it was tested how much grass or hay the animals had been given to eat. The testers explain that this can be determined from the content of omega-3 fatty acids typical of green forage. Other points that were used to test animal welfare included:

  • Traceability to the individual farms
  • Grazing and space in the stable
  • Cow-bound calf rearing
  • Calving boxes and sick wards for the cows
  • Tethering
  • External animal welfare controls in the courtyards
  • Dehorning

Why is the need for certification for milk in 2022 important?

▶ Every organic milk must at least be certified according to the EU organic regulation so that it can be displayed in the shop as “organic”. 

▶ In addition, many products in the Öko-Test bear the seal of an organic association: nine times Bioland, three times Demeter and once Naturland. Other, somewhat smaller organic associations are Biokreis and Gäa. In some cases, the associations recognize each other so that, for example, milk with the Bioland seal can come from Naturland farms in some parts.

Preventing supermarkets (unknowingly?) misleading consumers: The criteria of the associations go well beyond EU organic in some cases. According to Öko-Test the milk from Aldi and Kaufland in the Öko-Test “only” bears the EU organic seal, simply because the milk-supplying farms are members of an organic association!


Voluntary animal welfare label: Animal rights activists criticize the move

But is the animal welfare label really reliable or just meant well? The label introduced by the former Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) met with criticism when it was first introduced in 2019. Because it does not prevent controversial methods in meat production such as curling tail docking or chick shredding.

Animal rights activists also criticize that the label is not mandatory. Similar to the also controversial Nutri-Score , a manufacturer can label products with the animal welfare label at their own discretion. A supermarket can also decide against it if the label could potentially deter customers from shopping. 

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