Another German supermarket chain expands its animal welfare policies

Last month Aldi Nord released national and international animal welfare supply chain policies (in German and English language). Aldi Nord operates discount supermarkets in Germany and internationally, for example in Denmark, France, the Benelux countries, the Iberian Peninsula, and Poland. Both Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd also operate in the United States.

The Aldi supermarkets in Germany are owned by the Albrecht family, who split the business in 1966 into two separate legal entities: Aldi Süd (Aldi South) and Aldi Nord (Aldi North). Aldi Australia is owned by Aldi Süd.

I have written about Aldi Süd’s animal welfare supply chain policies previously on The Conversation and this blog. Now it’s Aldi Nord’s turn.

International Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy

ALDI Nord’s buyers are bound by this International Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy when carrying out their tendering and purchasing activities, and animal welfare matters are integrated into contracts.

The aim of the animal welfare commitment of ALDI Nord is the further development of the animal welfare standard when manufacturing our products in the defined scope of application, with the health and well-being of the animals taking top priority. We would like to raise the awareness of our customers and employees with regard to animal welfare matters through transparent information and a proactive dialogue.

The company’s commitments include, for example, the following:

  • the objective of increasing the animal welfare standard beyond the level required by law
  • to offer vegetarian and vegan substitute products as alternatives to animal products
  • certain products, such as real fur goods and angora wool, will not be sold
  • to continuously increase the proportion of animal welfare-friendly products in the product range (is this an acknowledgement that Aldi Nord sells products that are not animal welfare friendly?)
  • transparency along the supply chain and demanding the complete traceability of products, as stipulated by law. Beyond the level required by law, business partners must provide ALDI Nord with this information immediately upon request; for this purpose they must have established suitable information systems
  • simple and clear labelling of products
  • inspections and audits of business partners, including unannounced inspections of for example farms and slaughterhouses.

National Animal Welfare Purchasing Policy

The company’s national policy goes further than its international counterpart. This is most likely due to customer expectations in Germany and keeping up with competitors’ equivalent policies.

Aldi Nord has already implemented the following measures:

  • no meat and no down or feathers from force-feeding and live plucking are supplied or processed in Aldi Nord products
  • no products that involve mulesing in sheep
  • no real fur goods (the company signed the “Fur Free Declaration” in 2015)
  • no products made from angora wool, rabbit meat, quail or their eggs, lobster, eel, or shark.

Aldi Nord has a Fish Purchasing Policy for fish and seafood with a focus on sustainability throughout the entire supply chain for fish and seafood from wild-caught stocks and aquaculture. Only tuna with the “Dolphin Safe” label is sold, and no fish species that are categorised on international species protection lists as “endangered and protected” or “partially protected”.

The company uses the “V-Label” from the registered association Vegetarierbund Deutschland e.V. The label informs customers whether a product is vegetarian, without milk, without eggs or vegan.

In 2004, Aldi Nord was the first food retailing company in Germany to stop selling eggs from hens in battery cages. The company sells eggs only from barn, free-range and organic farming with certification for the alternative hen-rearing systems (KAT certification).

The company requires that all German suppliers of fresh meat are system partners in the QS inspection system (a quality assurance system). The regulations of this system go beyond legal requirements.

The recently released policy has the following, additional objectives:

  • an increase of organic products (with the assumption that organic products are associated with better animal welfare)
  • an expansion of the range of fish products that are certified as sustainable
  • expansion of the V-label products and an own brand for these products
  • a requirement that suppliers refrain from using avoidable small quantities of animal components in products
  • no use of eggs from hens reared in battery cages and small-group housing systems in 100% of the company’s processed egg products with a significant content of eggs.

In 2017, Aldi Nord will cease the sale of eggs from laying hens with trimmed beaks. From 2017, the company will not sell any pork from castrated animals and thus commit to the practice of boar fattening.

Further, Aldi Nord will formulate minimum requirements for products with animal-based raw materials, for example, in regard to husbandry, feeding, transportation, slaughtering and the use of antibiotics, and set down minimum requirements in supplier contracts.

Transparency in the supply chain

Aldi Nord commits to making its supply chains transparent and ensuring complete traceability of products. Products have a QR code and an Aldi Transparency Code (ATC); with the help of these detailed information can be obtained from the company’s website.

Our fresh chicken and turkey products are ‘5D-Ware’ (‘D’ for Germany). This guarantees that all production stages take place in Germany. The animals and their parents must hatch and grow up in Germany, be fed with feed from German feed mills and be slaughtered and processed in Germany.

We only procure fresh meat from Brazil from slaughterhouses that have joined the ‘Cattle Agreement’. We can thus rule out any association with the deforestation of the Amazon, where countless animal species live. Furthermore, social aspects such as the exclusion of forced labour, the respecting of the rights of indigenous people and the ban on land theft are taken into account.

Inspections and audits

The policy lists a range of requirements that suppliers have to follow. Also, the company – or a commissioned third party – makes unannounced on-the-spot visits on a random basis to inspect the required documentation and check compliance with all legal and industry standards as well as Aldi Nord requirements.

Such on-the-spot visits include the inspection of animal husbandry, feeding, housing (farm, slaughterhouse), transportation, stunning and other species-specific requirements.

Contribution to animal welfare

Aldi Nord commits to increasing animal welfare standards “in accordance with what is economically and scientifically feasible.” The company expects business partners to do the same. In collaboration with suppliers, the company pledges to work on animal welfare issues such as slaughtering pregnant cattle, dehorning cattle and docking pigs’ tails.

We will expand our active participation in relevant animal welfare initiatives and animal welfare networks to strengthen our commitment to animal welfare.

We will expand collaboration with suppliers to jointly achieve improvements in animal welfare, e.g. on the topic of slaughtering pregnant cattle, dehorning cattle and docking pigs’ tails.

Proactive dialogue

Aldi Nord promises to boost awareness of animal welfare among its customers and employees. It will do so by indicating its animal welfare commitment on products, its website, in retail outlets and advertising.

 

In Germany, the trend towards a plant-based diet is gaining in popularity resulting in increasing sales of vegetarian and vegan products. At the same time, customers interested in animal products are becoming more and more concerned about animal welfare and the sustainability of food production. The major supermarket chains in Germany have animal welfare supply chain policies and/or an increasing range of foods labelled as suitable for vegans and vegetarians (I wrote about Lidl’s position paper for the sustainable purchasing of animal products here).

Aldi Nord’s policies are available in English. Wouldn’t they make good reading material for Australia’s major supermarkets?

 

 

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