GERMANY, Essen|Mülheim. The discounter wants to ban farm animal husbandry systems 1 and 2 from its fresh meat range by 2030.
Since 2008, Aldi has permanently renounced the sale of caged eggs. In 2020, the discounter became the first major food retailer in Germany to join the European Broiler Chicken Initiative. Now Aldi is moving forward once again and announcing the change to a higher standard of husbandry for all animals: By 2030, the entire fresh meat range is to be converted to husbandry systems 3 and 4.
"We are making a big promise today," say Erik Döbele, Managing Director Corporate Buying at Aldi Süd and his colleague Tobias Heinbockel, Managing Director Category Management at Aldi Nord. Together, they are responsible for improving animal welfare at Aldi "in an unprecedented step" in the coming years. "As hard as it will be, we believe in doing the right thing: for animal welfare, for sustainable business, for our customers and out of conviction."
According to the Federation of the Organic Food Industry (BÖLW), Germans were significantly more likely to choose organic meat in 2020 than in the previous year. "The increasing sales of sustainably produced goods show that our customers are ready for a change in awareness," says Tobias Heinbockel. Aldi is providing proof that good value for money and sustainability are by no means mutually exclusive, he adds. "We've proven that time and again in recent years, and we're now taking it a decisive step further."
Aldi will be the first major food retailer to make fresh meat from outdoor climate and organic farming (husbandry systems 3 & 4) a matter of course. The planned steps include the largest livestock groups beef, pork, chicken and turkey. However, (international) specialties and frozen items are excluded. As early as this year, 15% of fresh meat sales (based on the average sales of Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd in Germany) are to come from farming methods 3 and 4.
While some welcome the signal effect that the discounter has had on the entire industry with its animal welfare-related changes in the past, for some critics the animal welfare conversion is not fast enough. "We're often asked, 'Why don't you just do away with conventional fresh meat right away?' You guys are such a big store. But it's not that simple," Erik Döbele says in response.
The meat market is a global business with many complex structures and parties that cannot change overnight. After all, around 90% of German farmers still produce in a conventional way today.
"The Aldi animal welfare promise has a scope that we are aware of," says Erik Döbele. "More animal welfare across the board means high investments for farmers and the conversion of a market that has known only one direction for the past decades. More quantity. Despite the complexity, we see it as our task to hopefully initiate a societal change towards more animal welfare - hence our central message haltungswechsel. For a significant expansion of outdoor climate and organic husbandry, we need reliable perspectives and purchase volumes for producers and processors."
With this decision, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd are sending an important signal to farmers, the manager adds: "The discounters see themselves explicitly as partners in the value chain. "We are giving farmers and processors planning security for years to come and are creating a strong, long-term reliable sales channel for animal welfare farming methods used by German farmers. At the same time, we would like to appeal to politicians, trade and industry to work together with us on one of the most significant transformation projects - securing the future of German agriculture" says Tobias Heinbockel. "We hope that our competitors will quickly follow suit here with similar plans."