Bundeskartellamt calls for more consumer transparency in animal welfare initiative
The Bundeskartellamt has no objections to plans of the Animal Welfare Initiative "Tierwohl" for the poultry meat sector. However, the authority calls for the introduction of an identification system in the pig meat sector for the benefit of consumers.
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "
We welcome the initiatives to promote animal welfare in livestock production. Competition law does not stand in the way of such endeavours. However, as the Animal Welfare Initiative has to be coordinated with factors relevant to competition in all the sectors concerned, we have to ensure that the consumer really benefits from such an initiative. It is very important that the customer can identify in a transparent way which piece of meat was produced according to which animal welfare criteria or whether this was not the case. Only if such transparency is guaranteed can the consumer make his or her purchase according to these criteria."
The Animal Welfare Initiative "Tierwohl" is a project based on an agreement between the agricultural, meat production and food retail sectors. The initiative is mainly financed by the four largest food retailers. Since 2015 the retailers have paid four cents per kilogramme of pig and poultry meat sold into the initiative. This is to be increased to 6.25 cents/kg from 2018. These funds are intended to reward livestock producers for implementing animal welfare measures such as, in particular, more space in stalls.
From 2018 consumer transparency is to be created in the poultry meat sector with the introduction of so-called identity checks for fresh and frozen untreated chicken and turkey meat. This means that in future the consumer will be able to tell from a label whether a piece of meat was produced subject to animal welfare criteria and what benefits the initiative actually creates for animal protection.
However, such an identification system has not yet been envisaged for the pig meat sector. As it is more difficult to create similar consumer transparency in respect of pig meat as opposed to poultry meat, the Bundeskartellamt will tolerate the agreement only for a transitional period until 2020. The Animal Welfare Initiative will have to present a concept if possible by the end of 2018 for the introduction of more consumer transparency from 2021 onwards. The advanced planning and investments of the producers can thus be protected and the initiative developed further during the transitional period.
A survey commissioned by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, vzbv) in 2016 shows how important transparency in animal welfare matters is for the consumer. According to the survey 83.6 percent of those asked would like to be able to trace the product to identify whether the meat originates from improved livestock production or not. Developments in the market since 2014 show that there is a consumer interest in substainably produced products and a corresponding market potential. Examples of this are the Dutch initiative "Beter Leven" in the meat production sector and initiatives such as the meadow-grazed milk programme "Weidemilch" or "fair milk" in the milk sector.