We work with companies in order to improve their animal welfare standards as well as their vegan offerings.
Ending the use of battery cages & beak searing
See our initiative.
Defining welfare standards in the aquaculture industry
See our campaign.
Working with supermarket chains on producing animal welfare policies
We pride ourselves of not only being able to bring about short-term wins, but to also develop long-term relationships with important food companies. One of the most prominent signs of success in this area is the fact that we are cooperating closely with several supermarket chains in order to produce and refine their animal welfare policies. We were recently able to make meaningful contributions to several policies and regularly give detailed ex-post feedback that is being considered in the following updates.
In 2017, we published a detailed comparison of animal welfare standards among the eleven largest supermarket chains in Germany (the German publication can be downloaded here). We see this benchmark as a helpful tool to highlight both progress as well as deficiencies in the industry standards and plan to update it every two years.
Animal welfare ranking of German retailers
In 2020, we compiled a comprehensive ranking of the animal welfare standards of the largest German retail chains. The companies were able to collect points for their animal welfare policies in a total of 14 categories, 12 of which deal with the specific policies for the most heavily used animal groups in the retailing sector. The ranking was topped off with the evaluation of lists, which name all products the company specifically excludes from sale (such as lobster, foie gras and fur). In addition, the companies’ general stances on topics such as taking part in our fish initiative and expansion of vegan options in stores were analyzed. The article on our ranking can be found here.
Vegan supermarket ranking
German food companies in general and retailers in particular pay a lot of attention to what their competitors are doing – this includes many kinds of sustainability issues. Having seen an impressive impact by a “sustainable fish” benchmarking done by Greenpeace, the idea was born to create and carry out a benchmarking for vegan-friendliness. Almost all of the leading German supermarket chains actively participated in our benchmarking, giving us numbers on their vegan products on offer in different food categories.
One direct result of the benchmarking was several meetings with chains in order to discuss the results and to talk about improvements that can be made. Both the supermarkets’ vegan product range and communication efforts have been growing since the benchmarking, although it is impossible to tell how much impact is due to the general trend vs. our benchmarking. However, it has become very clear that the retailers pay a lot of attention to the benchmarking and want to rank higher in the future, which is reason alone to keep on following this approach. The article on our 2019 vegan retail ranking can be found here.
In 2019, we developed a web-based tool that we made internationally available to interested NGOs free of charge. Accompanied by a comprehensive collection of best practices, the tool enables us to collect an international data pool in order to create rankings of globally operating retailers over time. In the first months of 2020, three organizations made use of the tool, publishing rankings of supermarkets based on their vegan assortment in Belgium, Czech Republic and Poland.
Vegan guide for universities and caterers
In 2017, we completely revised and expanded to 180 pages our practical guide for large-scale vegan catering, which was originally published in 2015. The Vegan Guide offers recommendations regarding plant-based alternatives to animal products and more than 80 recipes specially designed for canteen kitchens. The Vegan Guide has received coverage in the trade press, and we have also directly contacted decision-makers in the gastronomic industry in order to distribute it. More than 1,000 stakeholders received a copy of the guide in 2017. It can be ordered from our website as a print version or downloaded.
We have received lots of positive feedback, with one caterer reporting that the Vegan Guide has been used as a basis for expanding the internal pool of recipes and the goods management system (and it is entirely possible that other caterers have done the same).
Since 2016, 50% of the offering in university canteens in Germany is vegetarian or vegan – a development that we are proud to have supported through our Vegan Guide and other measures.
Making plant-based options more mainstream
As with our cage-free initiative, we are very conservative in counting our successes. We only account for steps that were direct results of our conversations and partnerships with companies.
Examples of success are:
- Getting a national pizza chain to test and to later fully implement and increase vegan options
- Working with a leading pasta producer to offer vegan filled pasta squares
- Getting producers of vegetarian and vegan meats to offer more vegan products
- Increasing the number of vegan options at Deutsche Bahn restaurants (only operator of long-distance trains)
- Cooperating with universities to implement more and better vegan options and working on their communication
- Working with supermarket chains to offer more vegan products and to positively communicate around the topic
Website and newsletter for food industry decision makers
We run the website lebensmittel-forschritt.de and publish the associated monthly newsletter. Both are aimed at decision-makers inside the food industry. In particular, we name companies that are taking important steps in the fields of animal welfare and vegan offering. We also present the latest developments and innovations in the highly dynamic area of vegan products and “functional ingredients” (i.e. ingredients that can be used either to develop vegan products or “veganize” existing recipes). The newsletter is sent to people in nearly all large and in most medium-sized food companies in Germany.
The impact of our website and newsletter cannot be measured directly, but we have every reason to assume that they are making a huge impact because it is extremely common in the German food industry for companies to strive to match their rivals when they undertake important steps. It is therefore vital to ensure that any progress is publicized, which is the purpose of Lebensmittel-Fortschritt. There is also great interest among recipients: Our newsletters have an average opening rate of 30%.