Directly from the source to the shelf – that is METRO’s basic idea when it comes to global procurement of food. From salmon fillets from Norway and lemons from Italy to American beef from the USA – a network of international trading offices (ITOs) is responsible for the procurement of the best products worldwide. Each location specialises in a specific category: Valencia is responsible for fruits and vegetables, Rotterdam for fresh and frozen meat, Concarneau for fresh fish and seafood. There are additional locations in Hong Kong and Düsseldorf.
All international trading offices rely on the strategy of common sourcing, i.e. they bundle the demand volume of the various METRO countries and go directly to the source. There are no middlemen. This leads to short supply chains, competitive prices and high availability of merchandise. Moreover, direct procurement enables unique and sustainably designed assortments distinguished by variety, freshness and quality.
- Products: Fresh and Frozen: Beef, Veal, Pork, Poultry, Lamb, Horse, Plant Based Meat-Substitutes
- Origin: Europe, North & South America, New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, Japan, Africa
- Suppliers: 250
- Employees: 40 FTE
- 2020/21 sales: EUR 261 million
- Volume/year: 60.840 t
- Products: Citrus fruits, Mediterranean fruits & vegetables, exotic products
- Origin: Spain, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, South America
- Suppliers: 300
- Employees: 83 FTE
- 2020/21 sales: EUR 270 million
- Volume/year: 250.000 t
Perfect combination: Global and regional sourcing
The ITOs are always in close contact with the category managers of the METRO countries. Depending on the product and season, both sides decide on a case-by-case basis whether procurement takes place on a global or local level.
Up to 70% of the food is procured by the subsidiaries themselves. The remaining 30% is handled by the ITOs. The 2 systems complement each other perfectly. Here is an example: When tomatoes are in season in Germany, the German METRO stores procure their products mainly from regional growers. In winter, the Valencia trading office takes over and buys tomatoes from countries like Spain and Morocco.
Competent, committed, flexible
Altogether, the ITOs employ about 100 people. Several buyers and sellers work in the Valencia Commercial Department, each responsible for a specific sourcing area and METRO country. For example, Commercial Manager Ioana Pohrib, procures fruit and vegetables from Spain for METRO Romania. She knows both countries really well, observes the market trends, is in constant contact with suppliers and, as a native of Romania, is fluent in the language of the METRO subsidiary for which she is responsible.
Before the start of each season, the buyers and sellers develop a long-term strategy: Which suppliers do we work with? How can the needs of the international METRO subsidiaries be optimally met? How can suitable qualities, prices and availabilities of the merchandise be ensured? ‘As a buyer and seller you need patience and great communication skills’, says Ioana Pohrib. ‘You also have to be flexible and make quick decisions; the market is always on the move.’
- Products: Wild & farm-raised fish, oysters, shrimp, mussels/clams, lobster, salmon
- Origin/supplier: 25 international fish auctions in France, farmed fish from Norway, Greece, Croatia, Spain
- Employees: 21 FTE
- 2020/21 sales: EUR 116 million
MFS Asia-Pacific – Hongkong
- Products: Frozen seafood & fish, processed & other foods, fresh and frozen food, near food
- Origin: Asia/Pacific
- Suppliers: 110
- Employees: 26 FTE
- 2018/19 sales: EUR 83 million
- Volume/year: 26,000 t
Straight from the field to the shelf
Within the ITOs, experienced teams of logistics experts ensure the smooth transport of the procured products. Example Valencia: there is no interim storage facility for the harvested citrus fruits from the region. ‘The products are supplied by the growers’ packing stations directly to the wholesale stores in the METRO countries’, says Logistic Supervisor Pedro Santor. Instead of operating their own truck fleets, the Valencia trading office works with strong service providers to deliver the merchandise quickly, professionally and on time. Depending on the fruits and vegetables, the experts have to meet special requirements. ‘The key is to keep the cold chain stable and maintain the correct temperature’, says Pedro Santor. ‘We have the best logistics solution for every product.’