Without them, nothing is possible: Proteins contain the building materials needed for our bodies. They are made up of amino acids – our body needs 20 of these but cannot produce 9 of them itself. But proteins are not only important for our health (see info box). When grown or farmed the right way proteins can have a positive impact on the planet. However, many of our industrially produced foods, especially animal products, require many resources to rear, harvest and process them and can lead, for example, to water pollution or deforestation and produce high greenhouse gas emissions. Animal husbandry that is not appropriate, for example chickens squeezed into closed sheds, can have consequences such as the rapid spread of disease which requires more antibiotics to treat them. That in turn can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria. This is one reason why more and more consumers pay attention to what food they eat and where it comes from. This is where the conscious consumption of proteins becomes increasingly important.
How much protein do we need to eat?
METRO is committed to offering a diverse range of sustainable proteins and in doing so, to contribute to the responsible use of natural resources. Diversity and balance in protein use also impacts positively on biodiversity of the animal and plant species we source. METRO therefore pays attention to a diversified protein range, both in assortment and stores, as well as with customers in their restaurants and stores. In all cases, the welfare of human beings who produce the foods is also crucial.
What are ‘Conscious proteins’?
There are three groups of food containing protein that can be conscious. The first are animal proteins which are defined as products from animals that have a good standard of living - for example, that they are provided with high-quality feed, have plenty of space and exercise, medication such as antibiotics are used responsibly and there is no overbreeding. The second group are vegetable proteins which include pulses such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and soya, as well as seeds, nuts and kernels and minimally processed ingredients such as tofu, and seitan. The production of such proteins is done in a way that does not harm the environment for example they are not grown on deforested land, water is used responsibly, and pesticides use is limited. The third group are alternative proteins which include those that are not commonly eaten everywhere for example algae or insects, or those that are completely new for example cell cultivated fish and meat or extracted ingredients like pea protein.
How METRO is navigating the protein space
Including more whole plant-based foods is a great way to diversify the way we eat in any case. A diverse range of foods which include sustainable plant and animal proteins, and which is appropriate to the respective culture, is METRO’s aim. This includes offering alternative proteins such as plant-based meat alternatives in different markets, both in own brand products and with external partners such as start-ups. Through the innovation hub NX Food, METRO is keeping abreast of developments in alternatives such as insect based ‘burgers’, plant-based fish alternatives, and even looking at cell cultured meat. By working actively on a balanced assortment and keeping up and defining future protein food trends, METRO contributes to a balanced use of proteins – from production to the plate.
With these products METRO is committed to sustainable protein consumption, some examples
• Olhó Carapau fish: MAKRO Portugal promotes the consumption of horse mackerel, the national fish which has become a less known alternative when eating fish. Every wholesale store has a local version.
• Boškarin beef: Since 2016, METRO Croatia has been supporting a farmer in Croatia that is committed to the preservation of Istrian Boškarin beef. The breed is very rare and was almost extinct in the 1990s. METRO works together with the farmer to offer this high-quality local meat and by doing so also keeps the stock of this breed preserved.
• Reine Lungau Milk: Since 2018, METRO Austria has been purchasing milk from cows from the Biosphäre Reine Lungau. There, the cows are kept on small family farms where they graze exclusively on meadows in the region and are slaughtered when the milking season is over. This enables the farmers to produce meat of a higher quality.
• Free-range eggs: METRO Pakistan works with farmers whose hens are raised outdoors on pastureto produce free-range eggs. METRO Turkey has introduced a private label for non-caged eggs.
• Smilian bean initiative: METRO Bulgaria supports local culinary traditions and works with local producers of the Smilian bean to promote the product and make it available for a wider market.
• Own brand solution from Rotterdam Trading Offic: METRO offers a new product range with plant-based meat under the METRO Chef private label – initially gyros, shoarma and natural chunks are available. Pork and beef-like will follow.
• Algae: METRO Japan offers a wide range of algae.
• Insect pasta: METRO stores in Germany and Austria offer pasta made from insects.
• Vegan fish products: At METRO Germany, vegan fish products are part of the fixed assortment.