Moving Boundaries

Why not Get Your Regional Products from a Wholesaler?

What does ‘local’ really mean? And how can retailers satisfy their customers’ needs for information about the origin and sustainability of the products they sell? METRO has the answers: here are some examples from all over the world.

Regional products are right on trend – because they only travel short distances, which makes for a small climate footprint. Because their place of origin gives them special characteristics. And because they are good for the local economy. METRO’s first global customer survey with more than 6,700 participants from 23 countries has concluded exactly that – and more. The use of local and regional products are among the top 3 measures which restaurateurs, traders and other METRO customers already use in their own businesses.

Local products – what are they really?

There is no uniform definition of ‘local’ products. Proximity is a crucial factor, but there are various aspects to it: ‘proximity’ can refer to the value creation stages that goods undergo during their production in a certain region. It can also refer to the distance between the place of origin and the place of sale.

METRO uses the following criteria for regional and local products:

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The producer

The product

… is based in the region

… is transparent and traceable

… is a small or medium-sized enterprise

… is produced using traditional processes and/or recipes

… supports the local economy in its place of origin

… is a rediscovery of an old variety

 

… is closely linked to the region in the minds of customers


The distance between the place of origin of a product and the METRO wholesale store is defined on a country-by-country basis – using the same benchmarks for large countries, such as Russia or India, and small ones, such as Belgium or Slovakia, would not be productive.

Regionalism in retail and wholesale: best practice from the METRO world

Many of the 34 METRO countries have special projects that promote partnerships with regional producers. Examples? Here is a selection.

  • In  Moldova, METRO supports local winemakers. Special campaigns and events allow producers to advertise their wines to restaurateurs. After all, quality is not everything. The marketing efforts must be right, too.
  • METRO India procures 12,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables directly from farmers through the ‘Direct Farm Programme’. Working without middlemen is much more efficient, while the shorter routes reduce food waste and ensure high quality and freshness. The direct business relationships also boost the income of the participating Indian farmers .
  • The METRO wholesale store in Vösendorf, Austria, allows farmers who run their operations within no more than 200 kilometres to present their produce directly in the store using an innovative sales concept: they get to provide information about their products and their origin on screens integrated into the product shelves. Customers can scan QR codes with their smartphones to find out about the locations and other details. The joint project between METRO, AbHof, a direct sales network, and Digitale Mediensysteme GmbH won the Retail Innovation Award in 2019.
  • METRO Austria is successively expanding its range of meat to include more regional and sustainably produced specialities. The wholesale store in Salzburg, for instance, sells meat from cows reared in the Reine Lungau Biosphere Park. Stores in Lower Austria now sell pork from locally reared Duroc pigs; the meat bears the AMA (Agrarmarkt Austria) quality seal.
  • In the Bulgarian village of Smilyan, farmers have been growing beans at the shore of the Arda river in the Rhodope Mountains for centuries. Since the summer of 2018, METRO has supported that local farming tradition by organising the culinary Smilyan Bean Festival, which attracts visitors to the region once a year. The initiative by METRO Bulgaria helps develop the economy of the village and makes the delicacy available to customers all over Bulgaria.  

METRO believes that local products are one component of the complex topic that is sustainability. METRO Germany alone sold €11.8 million worth of regional products in financial year 2018/19.  

More about METRO’s sustainability strategy:
2018/19 progress report – our sustainability strategy


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