METRO GROUP and UNIDO extend their alliance for sustainable food supplies

2 September 2011

  • Dr. Cordes, CEO of METRO AG and UNIDO Director-General Dr. Yumkella sign extension of the cooperation agreement
  • Training programs for producers and suppliers kicked off in India and Russia; more countries to follow soon
  • Training contents will in future also incorporate social, environmental and ethical standards

METRO GROUP and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are ramping up their joint commitment to more efficient supply chains and better food supplies. Dr. Eckhard Cordes, CEO of METRO AG, and UNIDO Director-General Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella signed a cooperation agreement to this effect in Düsseldorf. Following the successful completion of their pilot project in Egypt, both partners now plan to significantly increase the scope of the training programmes for producers and suppliers and extend it to large economies. After having already started projects in India and Russia in 2011, more countries like Kazakhstan, China and Indonesia are to follow soon. In addition, the training contents are to be extended to social, environmental and ethical standards.

"Especially in emerging and developing countries the local producers and suppliers are very important partners for us from whom we source a large share of our merchandise. Optimized supply chains are crucial for reducing post-harvest losses and improving the quality of the merchandise", said Cordes explaining the cooperation agreement. "With our training programmes and projects carried out together with UNIDO, we can materially contribute to the growing prosperity of local farmers and small companies. At the same time, we ensure access to high-quality merchandise for our customers".

"Insufficient trade and supply capacities, rising food prices and the lack of food safety and quality prevent the achievement of two main development targets: combating poverty and securing sufficient food for all" stressed UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella. "By developing the supply capacity of local producers together with an internationally experienced retail company like METRO GROUP and jointly organizing the necessary training, we can make sure that clusters of local suppliers are able to establish long-lasting business linkages and gain access to national and international markets".

METRO GROUP and UNIDO draw a positive balance of their pilot project in Egypt which started in 2010: post-harvest losses could be reduced by up to 40 percent and the quality and safety of the food products improved. At the same time, the higher product quality also resulted in higher incomes of the local farmers and suppliers who found a new market opportunity. During the past few months, experts from METRO GROUP and UNIDO have trained suppliers and small farmers in Egypt on issues like transport, quality, food safety, hygienic conditions and productivity. The internationally recognised quality standards of the Global Food Safety Initiative were used as a basis for the trainings.

Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), welcomed this commitment in his keynote address in Düsseldorf. "Modern development cooperation promotes self-help and helps people lift themselves out of poverty using their own resources. Also those who entertain a romanticised view of development politics cannot deny that more development is only possible with a stronger economy".

In order to promote the economic and social structures in further emerging countries and thereby actively contribute to combating hunger and malnutrition, METRO GROUP and UNIDO have now also agreed on joint projects in significantly larger economies. The first training projects were already kicked off in Russia and India. In a second step, the project plan targets countries like Kazakhstan, China and Indonesia. In this context, besides quality criteria the small farmers and suppliers are to be upgraded increasingly also regarding social aspects such as compliance with safe and fair working conditions and ethical and environmental standards. Moreover, the commitment will be extended to the non-food sector. The cooperation between METRO GROUP and UNIDO is also open to other partners.

Following the signing ceremony, METRO GROUP invited for a public panel discussion about the opportunities and limitations of sustainability projects. Together with representatives from politics, media and civil society, Cordes and Yumkella discussed about the possibilities for creating greater prosperity by means of shared responsibility partnerships between companies and policymakers with the director and film-maker Valentin Thurn ("Die Essensvernichter") and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wilhelm, Management Board member of the German Development Service Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

METRO GROUP is one of the largest and most international retailing companies. In 2010 the Group reached sales of around € 67 billion. The company has a headcount of some 280,000 employees and operates more than 2,100 stores in 33 countries. The Group’s performance is based on the strength of its sales brands which operate independently in their respective market segment: Metro/Makro Cash & Carry - the international leader in self-service wholesale, Real hypermarkets, Media Markt and Saturn - European market leader in consumer electronics retailing, and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.

UNIDO is the only specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. The Organization is recognized as a highly relevant, specialized and efficient provider of key services in support of the interlinked challenges of reducing poverty through productive activities, promoting the integration of developing countries in global trade through trade capacity building, fostering environmental sustainability in industry, and improving access to energy. More information at: www.unido.org