WWF report: Retailers in Romania slowly start embracing sustainable products
Overall the current scores are better compared to previous years. In 2016, five out of the eleven retailers have scored above 50% (Auchan, Mega Image, Lidl, Kaufland and Selgros), compared to just one retailer in the previous edition (Kaufland). The main aim of the report is to encourage both business and consumers to choose sustainable products and to spur consumption of environmentally friendly goods.
Top 11 retailers in Romania all offer certified seafood products
For the first time, certified fish and seafood products from sustainable sources were found on the shelves of all eleven retailers. The offering of products with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification widely ranges in the different stores, and also varies according to the different product categories - canned fish, frozen fish, seafood, but is present in all of them. This is a huge leap, as back in 2012 only 3 retailers offered certified fish products. Such progress is particularly important as the European Union is the largest importer of fish in the world, and over 90% of all fish stocks in the world are already exploited near their full capacity.
Only 42% of fruits and 65% of vegetables on the supermarket shelves are Romanian
A positive trend in offering Romanian fruits and vegetables on the market was observed in 2016, but their presence is still low. In 2014, 55% of the fruits and vegetables available in store were Romanian, while in 2016, the percentage increased to 61%. However, Romanian fruits still represent just 42% of all offered, and vegetables - 65%. Some of the most consumed vegetables such as tomatoes are only 38% of Romanian production, and among the seasonal fruits, only 16% of the grapes available are locally sourced. Most of the retailers still offer imported fruits and vegetables in detriment of local agriculture.
According to the 2016 Retailer Scorecard’s edition, the local supermarkets selling Romanian organic fruits and vegetables grew from three in 2015 to five in 2016. Regardless of the progress, more promotion of the Romanian ecological agriculture is needed.
Better guarantee for certified paper products is needed
Just one retailer was close to obtaining the maximum score in terms of offering Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products and recycled paper goods - Auchan. Five retailers - Lidl, Carrefour, Mega Image, Kaufland and Selgros, scored about 60%, and the rest are under half of the maximum score. FSC certification ensures that products come from well-managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. The FSC trademarks provide a guarantee to consumers that the products they buy come from responsible sources, thus Romanian retailers need to better implement such policies.
Three companies (Lidl, Mega Image and Selgros) include in their retail policies criteria of products made of recycled paper and with an FSC certification. Four respondents have mentioned that their paper purchasing policy excludes the explicit commerce of products from unknown, controversial or illegal sources.
Raising awareness among the consumers is a challenge
Comparing the results from 2016 with the previous editions of the report, the retailers have improved their environmental performance, but that is not enough - given the huge challenges regarding the consumption of natural resources and the impact of human activities on the environment. Transparent and complete communication about sustainable retail policies is generally missing for the clients. Information educating the consumers how to make environmentally friendly decision is also absent. Such information should exist as a proof of the application of environmentally friendly policies.