Milk production is a fundamental component of German agriculture. A cow must have given birth to a calf in order to produce milk. Afterwards, a high-performance milk cow in a conventional farming operation will initially produce up to 50 litres per day. By contrast, a cow in an organic farming operation will frequently produce only about 20 litres.Open Milk ProductionClose Milk Production
- Production of climate-damaging methane by the digestive process of cows
- Soybeans used in feed are frequently and increasingly grown overseas in monoculture farming operations that use controversial genetically modified plants.
- Intensive use of pesticides
- The loss of good practical farming knowledge
- The loss of environmentally valuable areas as a result of direct and indirect changes in land use
- Release of CO2 trapped in soil
- Energy consumption from overseas transport
- Pressure on small-farming structures
- Health risks to nearby residents and workers through the use of pesticides during cultivation of soybeans used in feed
- road fluctuations in milk prices
- Confined stalls that lack bedding and insufficient grazing prevent animals from engaging in natural social interaction
- Breeding goals and management systems designed to achieve high production frequently result in health problems and infertility among the animals. Premature slaughtering is frequently the only option.
- Some farms continue to use tie-stalls for their cows
- Painful procedures are performed on animals, including dehorning of calves
European organic logo & the Naturland label
Seventeen per cent of REWE Group's store-brand fresh milk is produced by organic farms. In addition to meeting the criteria of the EU organic farming regulation, this milk is certified by the Naturland environmental association. These certifications facilitate a more sustainable approach to milk production through such requirements as:
- Animal feed must be organic and predominantly produced by the farm itself or by a regional cooperative. Under the Naturland certification programme, green feed like grass or hay must be provided in the summer. As a result, cows used in organic farming operations produce less milk each year but live longer lives than high-performance cows do.
- Organic cows have more stall space with sunlight, lying areas equipped with bedding and access to pastures or exercise.
- The permitted stocking density is tied to the farm size "organic cowsto create a balance between feed cultivation and the area to which manure is applied.
In 2012, a partnership was established with the dairy Marburger Traditionsmolkerei. In this alliance, more than 60 milk farmers in the central German state of Hesse produce PRO PLANET certified fresh milk, cream and sour cream for REWE Group.
The dairy ensures regionality in terms of supplier selection and the sale of the milk products. In addition, only GM-free feed containing European protein components like rapeseed meal is used, and no soybean products grown overseas are utilised. As a result, long transport distances and additional land usage changes that turn formerly environmentally valuable areas into monocultures can be prevented.
No longer using overseas soybean products fosters the use of German and European protein feed. In particular, the cultivation and use of German legumes like field peas and broad beans will play a key role in the promotion of sustainability in our farming.
To facilitate the future availability of regionally produced PRO PLANET milk and dairy products in more and more areas, REWE Group is planning for dairies in other regions to make a gradual transition to GM-free feed.
Raw milk undergoes a cooling process at the farm and is then taken to the dairy by a refrigerated tank truck. Normally, it is collected in huge chilled tanks. It is then warmed and clarified before preparation. Afterwards, the cream and skim milk are separated. The milk is then homogenised, heated once again and chilled. Finally, it is processed further or filled into containers.
- Substantial electricity and heating needs
The Marburger Traditionsmolkerei has set the goal of having a climate-friendly production process in place within the next three years. This goal is to be achieved with the help of milk suppliers and their energy-supply systems as well as with the dairy's own measures, including implementing heat-recovery technology and a solar energy unit.
The so-called prolong process will be used as well. During this double bacteria-removal process, several decontamination steps are undertaken consecutively, and centrifugation is used. This facilitates gentle processing and avoids unnecessarily heating the milk.
The milk is transported from the dairy to logistics centres and then shipped to REWE Group stores.
REWE Group Stores
The stores of REWE Group serve as interfaces between producers and consumers. This is where the milk reaches customers.
- Consumer information about more sustainable milk
- Energy-intensive refrigeration
- Glazing of refrigerating units
- Use of more environmentally conscious refrigerants
- REWE Group informs and educates consumers through such programmes as the PRO PLANET label, the PRO PLANET website, the Internet in general, social media channels and fliers. The Sustainability Weeks play a major role in this effort.
All figures that do not apply specifically to REWE Group were obtained from widely available business publications.