METRO GROUP introduces transparent supply chain for fish and meat

18 June 2014

METRO GROUP is stepping up its efforts for a sustainable handling of sensitive product categories: the Düsseldorf-based retail company today presented a new and so far unique technology that allows a detailed tracking of the origin of fish and meat products. Thus, when purchasing fish, customers of the wholesale subsidiary METRO Cash & Carry can now use a smart phone app to find out in which waters and with which method the fish was caught. Also for a number of meat products it will in future be possible to retrieve detailed information about the origin, processing, quality and sustainability of the merchandise. The special feature of the new technology is that it is open to all market participants and therefore for the first time offers the opportunity for a harmonised traceability system.

In a cooperation with the standardisation organisation GS1 Germany and its IT services subsidiary METRO Systems, METRO GROUP has been working on the new traceability system in recent months. What makes this innovative solution so special is that - from the producer to the retailer - all parties involved enter their product data in their own data bases which are then consolidated online. Via a search engine and by way of a unique product identification it is then possible to obtain detailed information about individual products. Whereas often large data volumes were passed on across the supply chain in the past, the data now remain with the respective owner. The system thereby contributes to avoiding data redundancy, reducing complexity and curbing the costs for all parties involved.

The new solution is based on internationally applicable, independent standards and is thus suited for adding further product categories or additional data bases. This way, the new technology for the first time allows establishing a system that is open to all market participants along the supply chain worldwide. Previously, numerous standards and systems existed around the world that were used by different producers and retailers. With the solution now presented by METRO, the opportunity has been created to harmonise these parallel systems and thereby contribute to achieving a more effective traceability worldwide.

"Today, most of our customers as a matter of course expect to receive information about the product origin in the same way as perfect quality and product safety", said Heiko Hutmacher, responsible for Sustainability and Human Resources on the Management Board of METRO. "The new traceability system works for companies of all sizes and sectors and across all product categories – no matter whether Food or Non-food. Moreover, it enables us, better than ever before, to render our commitment to sustainable sourcing transparent for our customers and comply with the evermore stringent statutory regulations on product traceability".

With the new traceability system, customers can retrieve the main product data such as animal species, origin, fishing or farming method or the time of processing via a smart phone app already while shopping at the store. This way, the new technology enables customers to find out from which fishing area a fish originates, on the one hand, while it also allows for a much better control of the fish population of certain species, on the other. The data are in addition also available at www.ftrace.de when entering the number code printed on the invoice.

With its commitment to transparency and sustainability in product sourcing, METRO GROUP secures an important commercial basis for its wholesale business: "METRO Cash & Carry is the largest distributor of fresh fish in Europe", said Alain Cappannelli, Managing Director Food and Non-food at METRO Cash & Carry Germany. "Also in the future, we want to offer our customers a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood. For us, traceability is the key for sustainable sourcing and for increasing the quality and safety of our products. This way, we will strengthen the trust of our commercial customers in our company and our products over the long term".

With fresh fish, frozen fish and select meat products, METRO GROUP has successfully tested the new system in the past months. Besides the METRO Cash & Carry store in Neuss another three wholesale stores as well as the METRO Fish Logistics Center in Groß-Gerau participated in the pilot project. In addition to fish and meat, fruits and vegetables represent another important product category for the company's business with professional customers which is to be traced with the new system in the future. In the medium term, also non-food articles are to be integrated. Moreover, METRO GROUP plans to also roll out the new traceability solution at the international level.

METRO GROUP is one of the largest and most important international retailing companies. During the financial year 2012/13 (pro forma), it generated sales of about €66 billion. The company operates around 2,200 stores in 31 countries and has a headcount of around 250,000 employees. The performance of METRO GROUP is based on the strength of its sales brands that operate independently in their respective market segments: METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry - the international leader in self-service wholesale - Media Markt and Saturn - the European market leader in consumer electronics retailing - Real hypermarkets and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.