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PROMOTING THE BEST PRACTICES

Respect for the animals that feed us is the right way to ensure sustainable production and the best quality for the products we sell.
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Animal Welfare

We promote animal welfare conditions in our mission to put the best quality foods on our customers’ tables. To ensure that, we have established a set of criteria across all the Group’s companies.

We have banned the use of growth hormones and only allow antibiotics to be used for therapeutic purposes, never preventively or to promote growth. The stunning of all animals prior to slaughter is also compulsory, with the exception of certified religious rituals (which account for less than 5%).

We carry out regular laboratory tests, as well as quality and food safety audits, to our suppliers and in the slaughterhouses used by the Group in Portugal, Poland, and Colombia to ensure compliance with the principles already described and those in detail below.

Animal Tests

We do not allow animal testing in the development of our products in any of the countries where we are present. The exception is when it comes to animal feed products (sensory tests are carried out to assess the level of satisfaction of the target population) and in products to control or eliminate parasite species and/or overpopulations that could be a source of contamination or disease, such as insects.

Biotechnology and GMO

Our GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Policy dictates that our Perishables and Private Brand products do not contain any transgenic additives or ingredients, whether of plant or animal origin.

We are thus committed to:

  • cooperate with suppliers to understand the production processes used and assess the safety and quality standards implemented;
  • regularly carrying out laboratory analyses, using independent and accredited entities;
  • ensuring that suppliers can identify and trace GMO in the cases where it is not at all possible to replace them;
  • ensure the consumer’s right to transparent and accurate information about the presence of GMO on product labelling, being such disclosure carried out in strict compliance with the limit applied by the Group of a maximum of 0.1% (stricter than the 0.9% set under European law).

Meat

Biedronka’s Private Brand free-range chickens, sold since 2015 and available in all regions of Poland, are 100% raised in Poland without the use of antibiotics and are given non-GMO feed. Besides having ten times more space to grow than conventional chickens, below the average density of 30kg/m2, they have a minimum slaughter age of 70 days (higher than the market average established at 56 days) and access to the outside.

The Pingo Doce free-range chicken – 100% raised in Portugal – is a slow-growing breed of chickens, with a minimum slaughter age of 81 days. They are raised outdoors, with a maximum density of 25kg/m2, and their feed is mainly cereal-based (minimum of 70%). This product is certified by SGS, an independent external body, and its specifications were approved by the General Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Black pork sausages (six Pingo Doce references and three Recheio references) are 100% made in Portugal, in the Alentejo Region, where the animals are reared in extensive pastures and outdoors. The Company’s assortment continued to include Private Brand Duroc serrano ham, which has animal welfare approved certification of its production and slaughter processes from an independent external entity, and “Porco.pt” certified pork, of national production and that follows practices such as a lower animal density than that required by law and cereal-based feed.

We prohibit transport for over eight hours and the use of tranquillisers on Aberdeen Angus beef and we also include criteria such as the absence of wounds and signs of thirst or hunger in calves. In addition, we sell certified animal welfare approved organic veal, which is included in 12 references. In this production method, livestock are constantly grazing outdoors. When pastures are available during the year, the animals are left grazing. In seasons when less pasture is available, they are given organic feed.

Cage-free Chicken Eggs

We are committed to ban the sale of Private Brand fresh eggs from caged hens by 2025. The production of cage-free chicken eggs follows a set of animal welfare criteria and requires, for instance, a larger area available per hen, straw bales scattered around for the animals to peck at, and greater freedom of movement, among other conditions.

At Pingo Doce, we achieved this goal in August 2019, with the Private Brand offering only eggs from organic production, free-range chickens or those raised in a barn, that is, cage-free. Biedronka sells barn, free-range and organic eggs, while Recheio sells barn eggs under the Amanhecer Private Brand. In January 2020, barn eggs under the MasterChef brand were also introduced. In 2020, 45% of all Private Brand eggs sold by the Group Companies were cage-free.

In December 2020, Biedronka accepted an ambitious challenge to bring its commitment to selling only cage-free chicken eggs forward to 31 December 2021 – four years earlier than initially planned. Biedronka was also the only Company in the Group to extend the commitment to the supplier brands that may be introduced into its assortment.

Practices at Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar

In 2020, all Aberdeen Angus beef production units and the dairy farm obtained certification on the Responsible Reduction of Drug Use by an independent external entity. This certification ensures that antibiotics are only used for therapeutic purposes. The animal welfare approved certifications of these production units were also renewed by an independent external identity, in accordance with the Welfare Quality and AWIN® European protocols.

Terra Alegre also obtained Welfair™ certification, which guarantees that the products it produces, specifically Pingo Doce’s semi-skimmed and low-fat fresh milk and semi-skimmed lactose-free fresh milk, fulfil the protocol’s animal welfare criteria relating to space, comfort, quality feed, health and heat stress. At the same time, 77% of producers that supply the Terra Alegre dairy factory were also recognised with the same certification in animal welfare.

These are some of the measures that allowed us to achieve these results:

ABERDEEN ANGUS BEEF
  • a minimum of 6.5m2 per animal (more than the recommended 3 m2);
  • daily replacement of fresh straw for bedding;
  • animals grouped by sex and weight to reduce competition and stress;
  • flooring made of grooved concrete or rubber to prevent animals from slipping;
  • compliance with the recommendations of the Grandin Livestock Handling Systems’ Standard Welfare Scheme.
DAIRY FARM
  • one bed per cow and 0.6m of feeding space;
  • all animals have access to automatic massage brushes;
  • music to help reduce stress;
  • collars to monitor animal activity on all animals, which identify when they are in heat (avoiding the use of reproductive hormones) and detect changes in behaviour, which helps in the early diagnosis of pathologies and to reduce the use of drugs.

We also ensure the following in our dairy and Aberdeen Angus beef operations:

  • training in animal welfare for all employees in contact with the animals;
  • 100% of animals are vaccinated and dewormed;
  • leading and handling the animals by using techniques that reduce stress. The use of electric shock sticks or any system that might hurt the animals is forbidden;
  • facilities with an automatic cooling system that activates fans and sprinklers to cool the animals. The fans also ventilate the stalls, reducing the amount of ammonia in the air and drying the animals’ bedding and helping to reduce straw consumption by around 30% and the production of manure;
  • feed based on silage and fodder (corn silage produced by local producers or in our production units), favouring the cows’ rumen health, and increasing their comfort and well-being;
  • use of non-graded vegetables (e.g. sweet potatoes and carrots) and sub-products from other food industries (e.g. pressed tomatoes and brewer’s grain) in feed;
  • food complemented by feed adapted to each stage of growth, accounting for around 30% of dietary requirements;
  • 100% of animals are not subject to mutilation (e.g. tail docking and dehorning) and all animals have freedom of movement (they are free from chains).
AQUACULTURE PRODUCTION OF SEA BASS AND SEA BREAM
  • vaccination of 100% of fish;
  • open sea production, allowing fish to grow in their natural habitat;
  • low animal density, not exceeding 15kg/m3;
  • high oxygen concentration levels in the water (of over 6.5mg/l);
  • no mutilation is permitted (e.g. cutting fins), which means 100% our animals are not subjected to such practices;
  • use of “Dyneema” nets, which are more flexible, thus causing less friction, and reduce pain during the fishing process.
Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar

Find out more about the details of this area of the Group’s business, created in 2014 to support food distribution operations.