Supermarkets in Romania improve their sustainability record
WWF Romania started the Retailer Scorecard annual survey in 2012 to begin a conversation with retailers who shape the market in order to take into consideration the needs of both people and nature.
The Retailer Scorecard assesses retailers’ environmental performance by analyzing their environmental policies and the certified products available on their shelves, like fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, fish and seafood, detergents and disposable paper.
The evaluation is based on a questionnaire the representatives of each company fills in, as well as on observation forms filled in by WWF representatives who go to several stores from every retailer chain. The study includes the top 11 retailers in Romania. In 2015, those were: Auchan, Billa, Carrefour, Cora, Kaufland, Lidl, Mega Image, Metro, Profi, Penny Market and Selgros.
The results: Compared to 2012, in 2015 an increasing number of retailers were interested in sustainability and offered their customers a portfolio of environmentally responsible products. However, the improvements are still small. The maximum results achieved by supermarkets are still only half of the maximum score. Also, in 2015 only one retailer got half the maximum score (50%): Kaufland. The next four - Auchan, Carrefour, Mega Image and Billa scored above 40%, and six other retailers included in the survey -- Profi, Lidl, Cora, Penny Market, Metro and Selgros - had much lower scores.
More certified fish and detergents, but not paper
Regarding the wood and paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), only three participants in the study had improved (Auchan, Kaufland and Carrefour). The results confirmed that, in the absence of preferential policies to encourage the purchase of responsible products -- either recycled or FSC certified paper -- alternative, sustainable products cannot be found on the shelves.
When it came to environmentally friendly detergents, retailers were doing better. The number of those offering such products increased from 6 of 11, compared to just 3 in 2014 and just 2 in the initial study in 2012.
The results were even better when we looked at the selection of fish and seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). If in 2012 only three retailers had MSC fish products on their shelves, in 2015 10 of 11 retailers had such products: all except Penny Market. What is more, 5 of the 11 retailers offered certified products carrying their own brand. The supermarkets carrying MSC-certified brand products were: Billa, Carrefour, Kaufland, Lidl and Mega Image.
More and more local products, but very few from ecological agriculture
If last year not even one retailer sold Romanian fruit and vegetables coming from ecological agriculture, this year three companies said they had eco-certified Romanian products (vegetables and /or fruits) on the shelves: Auchan, Carrefour and Profi. It is a good start, but retailers need to do more because the shelves are still dominated by imported vegetables and fruit.
Over 50% of the fresh milk sold was local, as well as 99% of eggs, but less than 10% of the local products were eco-certified.
“We throw away 30% of all the food produced globally, or around 1.3 billion tons. We need to change consumer behavior and come up with a new model based on efficiency, sustainability and strategic thinking. The retail market has taken a few steps in the right direction, but to reverse this negative trend of net consumption of waste and environmental degradation, we need much more determination and effort”, says Magor Csibi, Director WWF-Romania