COOPERATING WITH FARMERS &
Food retailers and wholesalers have, over the years, invested in supporting local farmers and food suppliers in offering choice to consumers and encouraging sustainable as well as local production. Schemes such as dedicated supplier networks, tri-partite contracts and voluntary initiatives help address emerging trends and often include a direct reward to farmers investing in these changes. Furthermore, retailers and wholesalers help their suppliers enter new markets in the EU and support them in scaling up.
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Boni Selection milk offers Belgian dairy farmers income security
To offer our dairy farmers guaranteed sales and greater income security, Colruyt Group set up a partnership in 2019 with the Belgian dairy company Inex and 330 dairy farmers. In real terms, this means that participating farms receive a fixed price of 34.76 cents/litre for a fixed percentage of their milk volume for a minimum of five years. Every year we will also apply a transparent indexation mechanism so that the price stays in line with the dairy farmers’ cost increases. Since April 2020, the milk from this project has been on the shelves under our Colruyt’s own-brand Boni Selection.
Mercadona participates in the creation of the SDG Sectoral Guide for the agri-food sector
Thanks to the contributions of companies like Mercadona that form part of the Spanish Network of the Global Compact, the guide identifies thirty challenges linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The aim of this set of guidelines is to serve as a road map for other companies operating in the sector in meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agri-food industry encompasses one of the economic activities with the greatest impact on an international level. Beyond economics, however, it is a sector that directly impacts consumers’ health and well-being, the labour conditions of those who work in the industry and the exploitation of natural resources.
REWE Group Local Partnership
REWE Group is organised as a cooperative: Its independent retailers as well as its branches are firmly rooted in their communities and regions. They care about agriculture at the local level, which is characterised by small and medium-sized farms. Dedicated “local representatives“of REWE Group’s regional branches take care of the individual concerns of local producers. In addition, the Group established the “REWE Local Partnership”, which acknowledges this local responsibility and sets an example for the protection, preservation, and promotion of local structures. One of the core partnership principles ensures “We are supportive partners in times of crisis.” For example, REWE Group decided to pay pig farmers purchase prices for pork in line with market rates set before the outbreak of African swine fever and the collapse of export markets.
Supporting local producers
Local suppliers are responsible, on average, for around 90% of the food sourcing of Jerónimo Martins. In 2020, and because of the pandemic, support to national production became even more relevant. As an example, Biedronka created the "Time to Support Small Producers" programme in Poland, which allowed 140 new local producers to start supplying the Company.
In Portugal, Pingo Doce developed a special action to market perishable products that were at risk of being wasted, given the sharp recession in the economy. Some examples were the purchases of regional cheeses, wines and fish from the suppliers most affected by the pandemic.
METRO develops horeca toolbox to help businesses become more sustainable.
METRO supports its customers’ business success. Metro’s purpose is to help its professional customers run profitable businesses which have a positive impact on their communities and the environment. Consumers have changed the way they consume both at home and in restaurants and food businesses must adapt. METRO has, therefore, developed a guide which takes HoReCa customers through the main sustainability issues of interest for gastronomers: water, energy, responsible sourcing, waste, plastic & packaging waste, food waste, sustainable menu, social issues and safe food. It gives advice and solutions customers can directly implement in their own business. Because sustainable gastronomy is about conducting business that thrives in the long term.
Albert Heijn to introduce milk from climate-neutral farms in 2021
In 2017, Albert Heijn introduced the Beter voor Koe, Natuur en Boer (Better for Cow, Nature and Farmer) programme in association with Royal A-Ware for developing a closed and more transparent production chain for sustainable dairy products. At present, around 300 dairy farmers are involved in the programme. In the first years, good results were achieved in the field of animal welfare and biodiversity. For the extra efforts, dairy farmers receive a premium in addition to the milk price. Similar initiatives were recently announced for pork and fruit and vegetables. In the coming years, the bar will be raised, and dairy farmers will work on supplying climate-neutral milk. In addition, extra steps in the field of biodiversity and animal welfare will be taken.
Specialty Brokers partners with Turkish farmers to supply safe, sustainable, and EU-compliant sultanas
Specialty Brokers, a member of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services, is a company specialised in the supply of a dedicated range of seeds and dried fruits. In 2014, the company has proactively registered the EUIPO trademark “Integrated Pesticide Monitoring” for its Turkish sultana cultivation project. IPM allows sultanas to be cultivated with a maximum of 4 pro-active EU-compliant pesticides. In addition to financial compensations, farmers receive additional training (pesticides management, social & ethical requirements). Today, Specialty Brokers is partnering with numerous Turkish farmers and with the food and bakery industry in Germany and Austria, supplying sustainable sultana raisins containing a max. of 4 proactive pesticides.
Kesko shows support to local farmers: 'Thank the Producer' initiative
Kesko is actively increasing the amount of local purchases and encourages K-retailers to include products from local sources in their range. In 2020, K-retailers’ direct purchases from Finnish regions totaled €580.4 million. The 'Thank the Producer' operating model is one of the ways in which K Group supports Finnish agriculture. The purpose of the operating model is to increase the public’s appreciation for Finnish food and its producers. Consumer price may be slightly higher, which enables K Group to pay an additional contribution to the producers. By the end of 2020, products sold under this model had made up more than €4.8 million in additional money for farmers.
Coop supports and promotes organic cultivation
For its conventionally grown products, Coop aims at reducing the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. The retailer has adopted the Pesticides Guideline, which requires the responsible use of pesticides, and it actively supports suppliers with the implementation of improvement measures. In this vein, Coop has begun several projects to promote the use of compost and organic pest control. This is conducive to biodiversity and exposes flora and fauna to fewer pesticides. One important standard for the responsible use of resources is GLOBALG.A.P. which, as well as food safety aspects, also promotes good agricultural practice. All Coop producers are required to have GLOBALG.A.P. or Swiss G.A.P. certification.
EDEKA and farmers – partners in the value chain
EDEKA is traditionally a reliable partner of the German and European agricultural sector, supporting a sustainable, fair, and consumer-friendly food production. In the southwest region of Germany alone, more than 1.500 producers and processors provide regional products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, fresh and dry products to EDEKA’s regional brand “Unsere Heimat- echt & gut”. All these products are harvested, processed, packed, and sold regionally. Farmers benefit from an increased consumer interest in regional products and from the limited number of competitors. EDEKA has concluded long term agreements including guaranteed purchase quantities with many farmers. This ensures planning security for both sides and thus significantly contributes to the preservation of regional agriculture.
Carrefour to prioritise local and direct sourcing
Carrefour prioritises short distribution circuits, which highlights the work of producers, ensures the freshness and taste of products, while limiting fuel consumption. Today, in France, 85% of fruits and vegetables come from local producers, with a target of 95% by 2022. In France, each Carrefour hypermarket works, on average, with not less than 100 local producers. Carrefour Belgium has set up a commitment charter for local producers, ensuring the purchase of seasonal products on volumes, at fair prices, with payment within 30 days. In Spain, over 90% of fresh produce come from domestic suppliers. At the Group level, nearly 75% of Carrefour food products come from national suppliers.
Supporting suppliers by reducing payment deadlines
The relationship of trust that Jerónimo Martins develops with its suppliers involves creating the best possible payment terms for small and medium-sized producers. Since 2012, we have been supporting more than 370 perishable suppliers members of the Portuguese Farmers' Confederation by shortening the payment deadlines to an average of ten days (legal period is 30 days). In 2020, and as an extraordinary measure in a pandemic context, the payment to fruit and vegetable small suppliers in Poland was reduced to 21 days and from 45 to 7 days in Colombia. In Portugal, around 100 suppliers were able to receive their payment within 7 days of the invoice being issued.
SME retailers with a Super Supermarket Certificate provide local products
SME food retailers offer local products as part of their product selection: local products can be found on the shelves as a result of a direct collaboration between the independent supermarket retailer and the local and regional growers. This collaboration is interesting for local producers, both in terms of sales, promotion and financial return. Besides that, this way retailers contribute to local employment, quality of life and limit the transportation impact. A distinctive and sustainable product selection is part of the Super Supermarket Certificate (SSK). The SSK Certificate is the Dutch certification for independent SME food retailers who are both locally and socially involved.
SPAR cooperates with 7,000 organics farmers in Austria
Cooperation between SPAR and innovative farmers is a win-win situation: farmers are given growth opportunities and customers benefit from the qualitatively extended range of products at SPAR. In total, SPAR cooperates with about 7,000 organic farmers in Austria. One of them is Erich Stekovics, Austria's most innovative farmer and a pioneer in the field of maintaining biodiversity. Stekovics cultivates approx. 3,200 traditional varieties from mulberries to onions to tomatoes and chilies, you will find everything a connoisseur's heart desires in their natural paradise in Burgenland. Many products from Stekovics’ Farm are sold as SPAR private label and the range keeps on expanding.
Acting ecologically with strong partners
Kaufland and Lidl cooperate with renowned organic associations to increasingly offer their customers local organic food produced according to the highest standards. Since November 2018 Lidl Germany has a partnership with Bioland, the leading association for organic farming in Germany and Southern Tyrol. In total Lidl Germany permanently offers over 80 food items which meet Bioland standards. Kaufland is offering numerous quality food products through its Demeter line, which was established in February 2019. By now, the assortment has grown to over 250 products and includes juices, dairy products, canned vegetables, pasta products, baby food, and cereals as well as fruits and vegetables.
Herbalife Nutrition produces dietary supplements using only sustainably sourced fish oil
Herbalife Nutrition sells a dietary supplement composed of Omega-3 essential fatty-acids, (EPA and DHA) which contribute to a normal function of the heart and maintain normal blood pressure. To manufacture this product, Herbalife Nutrition uses only sustainably sourced fish oil accredited by Friend of the Sea. Friend of the Sea is currently a project of the World Sustainability Organization, an international trademark registered with humanitarian and environmental conservation mission. Friend of the Sea has become the leading certification standard for products and services which respects and protects the marine environment. The certification awards sustainable practices in Fisheries, Aquaculture, Fishmeal and Omega 3 Fish Oil.
More than 80% of Esselunga’s own-brand products are made in Italy
For Esselunga, buying local is a way to support local economies but also a way to connect to seasons, regional varieties and people who grow local typicalities. In 2019, 82% of the retailer’s own-brand products were made in Italy and some 90% of suppliers of fruits and vegetables were Italian SMEs. Esselunga also promotes products of excellence certified DOP, IGP, DOCG, DOC and IGT in its stores aware that they, not only enhance the link with the territory, but also are linked with quality, safety, and production excellence. Over 2,000 of excellence certified references, of which about 98% are made in Italy, were available in stores.
Belgian retail association Comeos helps local producers keeping in touch with supermarkets
Belgian retailers have an increasing demand of food produced by local farmers. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for them to find the correct person of contact and which measures should be taken with regard to food safety. To support them with this, Comeos, the Belgian retail association, developed a brochure for local farmers and/or food business operators. This brochure will be updated in 2021.
Metro supports local farmers in Bulgaria
METRO’s programme "Nurtured with care in Bulgaria" includes a range of 430 food products and over 300 farmers. The new operational model provides that instead of supplying stores from two logistics centers, they purchase products directly from farmers in the regions where the chain stores are located. As a result, about 200 small farmers deliver over 400 types of fruits, vegetables, and meat directly to the stores. In 2018, the sales of Bulgarian agricultural products by small farmers reached 4800 tons, and the chain became an intermediary between local farmers and the professional customers of the chain from the hotel and restaurant businesses.
Nationwide selections of organic products cover a growing number of everyday food staples
Organic food is growing in popularity both in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. The sales of organic products at K Group’s grocery stores have been growing at an annual rate of 10-20% in recent years. Milk, eggs, bananas and coffee are the most popular organic items in K-food stores and families with children are the most likely to favour organic products. K Group’s selections comprise more than 2,100 organic products, and the number is constantly growing. The group has responded to the growing demand by updating and expanding its own brand Pirkka’s organic range. By the end of 2019, the Pirkka range already did comprise nearly 200 everyday organic products.
Ahold Delhaize takes responsibility to improving its products environmental and social footprints
As member of the CGF’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, Ahold Delhaize helps drive and communicates environmental sustainability improvements throughout the value chain of the consumer goods industry. The retailer is represented on the Board of Governors and working group of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and is on the Board of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), which provides clarity on credible seafood standards. In addition, Ahold Delhaize is part of the Retailers Palm Oil Group (RPOG) and Retailers Soy Group (RSG); a group of European retailers working together pre-competitively on the challenging topics of palm oil and soy.
Home-grown organic vegetables at Bio-Planet and Colruyt
Broccoli, celeriac, leek, potatoes, white cabbage, cauliflower … The mouth-watering produce from Alveringem in West Flanders has been on the shelves of Colruyt Lowest Prices and Bio-Planet for decades. When the owners of organic farm ‘Het Zilverleen’ in Alveringem were looking for a buyer, Colruyt saw this as a fantastic opportunity to buy the farm with its 25 hectares of organic soil. By joining forces with organic farmer Niels, the retailer can offer many delicious organic vegetables in its fresh produce department. The collaboration helps Niels run a healthy farming business without making major investments in organic land.
Coop: a pioneer in organic farming and regional marketing in Switzerland
Miini Region from Coop offers more than 3200 selected regional products from local farmers and producers. The Miini Region quality label is attached to products that are produced regionally, thus securing jobs in all areas of Switzerland, and offer environmental added value due to short transport routes. The range comprises all daily food staples such as cheese, sausage, fruit and vegetables, as well as cut flowers, seedlings, herbs and plants. These are identified on the shelves with the clover symbol. All products from the Miini Region range are subject to stringent requirements and undergo a strict inspection and certification process.
SPAR’s support program for SME suppliers in Hungary
SPAR Hungary issued an extensive support program for SME suppliers, whereby 6 regional supplier centres were developed, collaboration was increased, and processes of such suppliers were enhanced. In particular, regional suppliers receive support with standardization, certification and quality management. Thus, local producers became more efficient, while at the same time SPAR stores are provided with the expected consistency and quality of products. Through this support program SPAR Hungary increases local purchasing value and creates new job opportunities in such regions.
Continente Expands Organic Private Label Assortment
To meet consumers increasing demand of organic products, Continente further strengthens its offer in this segment, through its Continente Bio brand, which already contains more than 100 references. The Bio product range. Continente Bio brand products are produced to high quality standards and a rigorous quality control and certification process. At a time when the Portuguese are increasingly aware of their diet and the impact it has on their health and the environment, the food retailer intends to promote a more sustainable lifestyle, increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, promote seasonal products and reduce food waste.
Jerónimo Martins extends sustainable agri-food production
Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar was created in 2014 to ensure the sustainability of the supply chain of strategic products. It assures the direct supply of dairy, Aberdeen Angus beef and aquaculture fish (sea bream and sea bass). In 2020, it also announced investments in the production of organic grapes. Since 2019, all Angus beef production and dairy units are certified for the Responsible Reduction of Drug Use maintaining its score of “100% Excellent”, ensuring that antibiotics are only used for therapeutic purposes. These units also have animal welfare certification, in accordance with the European Welfare Quality and AWIN protocols. The latter was extended to Terra Alegre (dairy production) in 2020.
Tasted and approved: 100% Belgian Boni mussels
Colruyt Group and Brevisco are working together on a project of mussels farming off the Belgian coast. For the first time, they have been able to harvest together a large quantity of mussels. Partnerships with local suppliers and growers are very important to Colruyt Group. Together with different partners, the retailer is also investing in other projects in the North Sea such as the Edulis project to test the farming of mussels in between the wind turbines in the North Sea or the SYMAPA project which aims at developing efficient harvesting techniques and looking at where smart sensors and measurements can support the cultivation process.
Sonae supports Portuguese local farmers thanks to the Continente Producers Club
Continente Producers Club (CPC) is a support structure for Portuguese livestock and agricultural production, created in 1998, with the aim of bringing Sonae MC closer to national producers. Producers find in CPC a guaranteed way to sell their production, while Sonae MC guarantees the offer, to its customers, of Portuguese products that follow the best production practices. CPC has been working in favour of the national agricultural sector, creating jobs, fostering regional development, promoting ambitious, innovative and of undeniable economic and social added value projects. The producer club has around 200 members, including producers’ organisations, individual farmers and family businesses.
Carrefour launches its “Zero kilometre” commitment to help local producers
The retailer announced that it has drafted a standard contract under which each store will be able to secure supplies via short distribution channels of high-quality products – particularly very fresh fruit and vegetables, grown as close to the store as possible. Producers will be up to sell their products directly to the closest Carrefour store, without the aid of an intermediary party. Carrefour promises to list local producers as soon as they receive the contract – a simplified contract no more than two-pages long – within 48 hours. The Group also undertakes to pay them every seven days.
Collaborating with WWF to conserve and increase endangered migratory fish populations
K Group (Kesko and K-stores) and the wildlife conservation organization WWF Finland have begun several years of wide ranging cooperation to conserve and increase endangered migratory fish populations. The cooperation is recognised by the “Mating Belongs to all” ("Kuteminen kuuluu kaikille") slogan. in this collaboration, the parties strive to remove barriers that block spawning in rivers and brooks and to create spawning grounds together with local operators, landowners, K-retailers and volunteers. In 2 years, more than 80 kilometres of new spawning grounds and habitats for migratory fish have been opened up, 19 barriers that prevent the fish from swimming upstream removed, and more than 200 gravel beds established.
Danube Soya Association: GM-free soya from Europe
Coop is a member of the Danube Soya Association which promotes the sustainable and GM-free production of soya in the Danube region and has developed a corresponding standard. The region's climate is very well suited to growing high-quality soya. However, there was also considerable interest in producing soya outside the region in line with the Danube Soya Standard. The Danube Soya Association therefore set up the Europe Soya Standard at the end of 2015. Coop uses only GM-free and certified soya from Europe in feed for its’ Naturafarm laying hens and chickens ensuring that no South American rainforests are cut down to make way for soya monocultures.
Metro actively supports PROJEKT 2028 ensuring the protection of honey and wild bees
Short distances from field to shelf, fresh taste and, last but not least, the support for the local economy: There are many reasons for working with regional producers. Raising awareness for the work of beekeepers and the preservation of the honey bee: Those are the intentions behind the initiative ‘PROJEKT 2028’ which METRO supports in Austria. The initiative is committed to increasing the number of bee colonies in Austria and Germany. PROJEKT 2028 honey is available – in addition to other regional honey varieties – in the assortment of all 12 Austrian METRO stores.
PENNY's incentives for organic farming
PENNY, a brand of REWE Group, has introduced the Naturgut Junior-Helden. These are “in-conversion products” from producers who do not yet have an official organic certificate due to the required transitioning time but who already produce organically and, consequently, more expensively. With this initiative, PENNY offers producers additional financial incentives during conversion time and a new opportunity to market their products: Participating suppliers receive a price that his higher than for regular conventional produce. This is only to a small fraction passed on to consumers. Together with a marketing campaign, Penny aims at educating consumers about conversion and the additional standards fulfilled by the suppliers during this time. This gives farmers a greater incentive to switch to organic farming.
Products made with respect for human rights
As an international market player, Colruyt takes responsibility for ensuring the right working conditions among its' producers. The retailer wants to be sure that producers not only comply with their national laws, but also with international treaties and conventions. One way in which Colruyt realise it's aim of 100% responsible trade is through membership of amfori BSCI. This international platform helps companies achieve their goals around decent working conditions. Colruyt asks all suppliers of house-brand products to sign up to the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct.
German retailer EDEKA partners with local animal welfare associations
Hofglück is a regional pork meat brand of EDEKA southwest which meets highest animal welfare standards. The producing farms are selected in cooperation with the German Animal Welfare Association and certified by independent authorities. The animals are raised in accordance with the standards of the animal welfare label Für mehr Tierschutz. This ensures that the animals get sufficient daylight, an outside moving space and fresh straw in the laying area. In addition, the animals are solely fed with genetically non-modified animal feed. With this partnership, EDEKA not only contributes to the preservation of regional agriculture, but also to the development of a more species-appropriate animal husbandry.
Partnership with university for research in agribusiness
The University of Évora (Portugal) and Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar (JMA) have a cooperation agreement to develop research activities and to support education. The agreement intends to implement several theoretical, practical and scientific research activities in the business areas of JMA (animal farming, aquaculture and dairy). The cooperation works in areas such as animal welfare and health, nutrition, genetics, quality, efficient use of water and energy, agricultural production, land use, soils improvement and forest recovery.
The best practices featured in this website are only a few examples of the numerous actions taken every day by food retailers and wholesalers. There are many more in the annual and/or sustainability reports. We have assembled the ones from our members below :