Austrian supermarket chain Billa, part of the REWE Group, has called for more transparency in animal welfare and legally binding animal husbandry labelling that follows an objective system.
The retail chain has been committed to strengthening domestic agriculture and improving industry-wide animal husbandry standards for a number of years.
'Comprehensible And Transparent For Consumers'
Marcel Haraszti, CEO of REWE International AG, commented, "Animal welfare is a task for society as a whole and requires a system change. The marking of the posture is an essential step for this. This makes it comprehensible and transparent for consumers under which conditions an animal was kept and we can support our customers in making a conscious purchase decision on the shelf.
"In addition to the food trade and agriculture as a foundation, manufacturers, gastronomy and communal catering are also in demand here. Above all, however, it is also up to politicians to create the appropriate framework conditions and take concrete measures."
According to the retailer, it has several benchmarks for animal husbandry labelling to be effective for animal welfare.
It said the labelling must be relevant to all sales channels and all consumers from the start, which includes the food trade, gastronomy, and mass catering, where more than half of the meat in Austria is marketed.
In addition, the husbandry labelling should apply to all types of livestock along the value chain and include all product groups, including fresh meat, eggs, milk, sausages, and other processed products.
Haraszti added, "It's time to press ahead with this important further development. We take responsibility from our role as a food retailer, but the food trade alone cannot accomplish this change - a problem affecting society as a whole requires a joint solution. And that only works with close coordination and the willingness of everyone involved."
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Animal Welfare At Billa
For more than two years, Billa customers have been able to purchase 100% Austrian meat from local farmers.
The company has set necessary standards for animal welfare through its organic private-label range Ja! Natürlich and the 'Fair zum Tier (Fair to the Animal)' label.
The 'Fair zum Tier' initiative aims to improve the living and husbandry conditions of domestic livestock with what will be Austria's largest animal welfare range, initiating a system change and establishing standards that are above the current legal level.
The next milestone and a further expansion of the animal welfare range will be achieved in autumn of this year, with fresh meat offered by the retailer to gradually shift to animal welfare programmes.
The 'Fair zum Tier' programme will be significantly expanded, promoting animal welfare and regional origin at the same time, Billa noted.