Investigation into calf farms in Spain, 2021

Meat Sales Over Climate Goals for European Food Retailers

FOUR PAWS ranks leading DACH & UK supermarkets on meat reduction strategies 


Vienna, July 19 2022 – 38 leading super-markets (and not so super versions) in DACH countries & UK were assessed and scored in regards to their meat reduction goals by FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization. While some food retailers have already expanded their plant-based product range, no one has yet committed to a binding meat reduction. In light of the ubiquitous climate crisis, the results are highly frustrating. A quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions results from food and agriculture – the majority from the livestock sector alone. FOUR PAWS calls once more for an overall reduction of farmed animals, a transition to more plant-based proteins and an end to factory farming.

In supermarkets across the world leaflets widely promote bargains for steaks for the barbecue season. But it is not only coal that is burning this summer, as deadly wildfires spread through Europe and the rest of the world.

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), natural disasters will occur more frequently and more severely than ever before. According to the IPCC experts’ suggestion, a change to a plant-based diet could halve the greenhouse gas emissions of food in comparison to the meat-rich Western diets.

"It is not sustainable to put the pressure for change on consumers or farmers alone. We are seeing a great increase of plant-based products being introduced and expanded by supermarkets. But they also have a responsibility to set clear targets to reduce factory farmed meat and dairy offerings to help mitigate climate change and future pandemics. Supermarkets are enabling a significant overconsumption of meat and are powerful influencers contributing to the over-production of animal-derived products. The solution is as clear as the argument in favour of it, binding-reduction strategies must be planned for and communicated about before it’s too late and clear binding-reduction strategies are key.” 

Sonja Svensek, Head of Nutrition at FOUR PAWS, said.

38 food retailers and zero commitment for meat reduction

The main findings of the 38 assessed supermarket chains are sobering. No one secured a ‘very good’ ranking, however, Lidl (DE) came out on top with Lidl (AT) coming second with a ‘Good’.

Although 50 per cent of the companies have plans to increase their plant-based offerings in the future, none of them has a concrete meat reduction strategy in place. Also, none of the food retailers has plans to remove the promotion of cheap meat. Only a few, such as Lidl (DE), Penny (DE) and Billa (AT), consider true cost-pricing, which, among other things, also takes into account the costs on the environment.

Kaufland (DE), Coop (CH) and Migros (CH) are the only three companies that claim to sell less meat from factory farming than from more animal-friendly systems.

 While it is striking that the majority (73%) of the German companies participated in the survey, only two out of ten UK supermarkets did. Austrian and Swiss companies came out half/half when it comes to participation.

Background & Methodology

The Atlas Challenge ranking depicts the level of effort and performance of some of the leading supermarkets in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and in the United Kingdom on their meat reduction strategies and sustainable plant-based nutrition initiatives. This was done by research conducted via publicly available information online, as well as by sending out a questionnaire for their input between January-June 2022. All companies that haven’t responded, as well as Globus (DE), Marktkauf (DE), Penny (AT), Adeg (AT), MPreis (AT), Spar (CH), Denner (CH), Sainsbury’s (UK) and Waitrose who refused to answer, were evaluated solely by FOUR PAWS research on publicly available information online. Companies were evaluated in four categories - CSR reports, marketing strategies, product portfolio and long-term strategies - and on a grading system - Low (0-25%), Average (26-50%), Good (51-75%) and Very Good (76-100%).


Read the ranking


FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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