Supermarket chains in Bulgaria and Romania fall short of “green” expectations



Posted on 20 August 2012  | 
GPN 261100
Family supermarket shopping. A mother looks at spreads with her children. Many spreads and other food products are likely to contain or have been made using palm oil.
© WWF-Canon / Richard StonehouseEnlarge
The first supermarket survey, which assesses supermarket chains in Bulgaria and Romania according to the sustainability of their products and purchasing policies, has shown that retailers in both countries are falling short of “green” expectations.

The survey assesses the top 10 retailers in each country in six key areas: fish products, dairy, fruit and vegetables, paper products, detergents and environmental policies. In Bulgaria, the best performing chain Piccadilly collected 5.93 points, which is less than a third of the maximum 18 points. In Romania, retailers did slightly better, but none of them managed to get 50% of the maximum score, with Mega Image reaching 42.9%.

“Romanian supermarkets got average marks for products like eggs and milk, but where they scored really poorly was in the areas of fruit and vegetables, fish, detergents and paper products”, said Ioana Busila, Corporate Relations Expert at WWF Romania. “For example, none of the 10 supermarkets we tested sell organic fruit and vegetables produced in Romania and only 26.85% of the fruit and vegetables sold come from Romanian agriculture, which leaves something to be desired when it comes to locally sourced products”.

The survey found the situation to be similar in Bulgaria.

"The Top 10 Bulgarian retailers of food and fast moving consumer goods provide some ‘green’ choices, but consumers really need to shop around to get to them”, said Iva Bratanova, Corporate Relations Expert at WWF Bulgaria. “Organic and free-range eggs, as well as recycled paper products are relatively well positioned and are available in almost all supermarkets, but locally sourced fruit and vegetables, as well as sustainable fish products are hard to find, with only one Bulgarian chain offering MSC certified fish".

The methodology of the study was based on a similar survey conducted by WWF Switzerland in 2006. The survey was adapted to the markets in Bulgaria and Romania. The supermarkets were sent questionnaires with identical questions to measure their portfolio of sustainable products. At the same time WWF "mystery shoppers" visited at least one store from each supermarket chain in May and June of 2012 and completed observation forms. Four of the Romanian supermarkets took the time to answer and send back the questionnaires, while none of the Bulgarian did.

“The large retail companies play a crucial role in fostering sustainable consumption, given the fact that they work with thousands of suppliers and, at the same time, have millions of consumers that they influence every day”, says Barbara Janker, Corporate Partnerships Coordinator for WWF in Central and Eastern Europe. “We hope that the end result of this survey will be to motivate the retailers to rethink their responsibility in society and start acting sustainably.”

The study includes a series of recommendations from WWF on ways the retailers can reduce the impact on the environment and local communities.
GPN 261100
Family supermarket shopping. A mother looks at spreads with her children. Many spreads and other food products are likely to contain or have been made using palm oil.
© WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse Enlarge

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