Discount supermarket Penny [7037189Z:GR] is implementing a “true cost” campaign to raise awareness of the environmental impact of producing food, as reported by Reuters on August 1. Despite enjoying some of Europe’s most affordable groceries, German shoppers are being asked to pay extra for selected items, reflecting the hidden costs on climate, health, soil, and water. Germans spent only 11.1% of their household budget on food in 2022, lower than the EU average of 15.9% and significantly less than Spain and Italy at 20.6% and 17.9%, respectively. However, the cheap, industrially produced food has a high environmental price, with German agriculture accounting for approximately 7.4% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, totaling 55.5 million metric tons last year. Penny hopes to prompt consumers to consider the true impact of their purchasing choices and is donating the additional income from the campaign to support sustainable farming projects. Nonetheless, the discount chain anticipates a decline in sales as shoppers grapple with inflation and changing consumption habits.
In response to the environmental concerns, Germany’s Greens-led agriculture ministry has been advocating for actions to reduce the carbon footprint of the sector, such as promoting local produce, encouraging organic farming, and introducing labeling requirements for meat products in supermarkets. Lidl [1650952Z:LN], another discount supermarket chain, has already pledged to stop selling cheap meat sourced from the lowest category of animal husbandry by 2025 and plans to increase plant-based protein offerings.