Lidl introduces meat traffic lights

The discount chain Lidl awards fresh meat with an “attitude compass”. Consumer advocates see this critically.

A chicken breast from the

IWithin the next two years, a state label is to be created for meat that shows how animals are kept. This is what the coalition agreement provides. The discount chain Lidl is now ahead of such a legal regulation. This week, the company will start labeling all fresh meat in its 3200 branches in Germany with an “attitude compass”. “We want to support our customers in making a conscious purchase decision for animal welfare,” explains Jan Bock, Purchasing Manager at Lidl Germany.

Lidl’s husbandry compass differentiates between four levels, whereby level 1 – namely “stable housing” according to legal regulations – is to be phased out according to Lidl’s expectations. At the beginning of 2019, 50 percent, and in the long term the entire fresh meat assortment at least at level 2, called “stable housing plus”, with significantly more space and activity material than legally required. Level 3 is available in the “Tierwohl Plus” variant with even more space for the animals. If they also have an “outside climate” (for example a stable open to one side), then level 3 is called “outside climate”. For even higher animal welfare standards, there is level 4 “Premium” or “Bio”, provided that the statutory provisions of the EU Organic Regulation are complied with.

Transparency should raise standards

The logic of the retail group: Thanks to the transparency, the standards throughout Germany could gradually increase. For this it is also necessary, according to Lidl, that all participants in the supply chain are gradually integrated and not excluded from further development by too high entry levels and high financial burdens. And Lidl also holds consumers accountable. They must “follow their words with deeds and consciously promote meat from a more animal welfare-friendly attitude through their shopping behavior.”

Meanwhile, consumer advice groups and environmentalists are warning of confusion due to new labels for meat. “We now need a state animal welfare label quickly,” demands Sophie Herr from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. Such a label has been discussed for years. The “Animal Welfare Initiative” has existed since 2015, which pays farmers for voluntary additional services from a fund that they pay into supermarket chains. The advance of Lidl, one of the largest meat suppliers in Germany, is likely to increase political pressure. Matthias Miersch, deputy parliamentary group leader of the SPD, urged the implementation of the state animal welfare label. “The Minister of Agriculture must now quickly present an ambitious label that consumers can understand,” he told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. There is an urgent need for “uniform and binding labeling” for meat produced in a species-appropriate manner.