Challenges in animal husbandry

In Switzerland around 50% of food comes from animal production. The Swiss Animal Protection Act is one of the most stringent in the world and incorporates a number of animal husbandry regulations that apply nationally. Because of this, we source the majority of our veal, beef and chicken from Switzerland. The legal regulations concerning animal husbandry vary greatly depending on the country of origin. Stocking density, standardized high-yield breeds, a lack of natural light and keeping animals indoors all year round are typical problems in intensive livestock farming.

As a group, Coop has been committed to animal welfare for many years now and this commitment has been enshrined as a strategic goal for the entire Coop Group many times. For our retail trade we have developed our own animal husbandry programmes for cattle, pigs, calves and hens together with Swiss Animal Protection SAP. SAP also regularly carry out unannounced checks on the husbandry, transport and slaughter of these animals. The organic and free-range products from these programmes are sold under our own-label brands Naturaplan and Naturafarm.

Humane animal husbandry in our ranges

No-gos within the Coop Group

Across the entire Coop Group we consistently refuse to accept any products obtained through cruelty to animals. We have therefore created a no-go list for all our business units and their ranges, and list all no-go products on it.

Guidelines for the retail trade

Our "Guideline on Sustainable Sourcing" is applicable to operations both in Switzerland and abroad, and sets out the minimum requirements for animal husbandry, feeding, transport and slaughter for our entire range of brands and own-label brands. The use of hormones or performance-enhancing substances forbidden in Switzerland is prohibited throughout the product range, as are products from clones and genetically engineered animals or their offspring. With the exception of lambskin and cowhide products we do not sell any articles made from real fur. We also ban the mulesing procedure of removing the skin around the tails of sheep and lambs, live plucking for down products and the use of reptile skins and materials from endangered animal species.

Promoting Naturaplan

Our Naturaplan products are produced in accordance with the strict guidelines of Bio Suisse. The entire farm is organically run, not just individual areas of the operation. The animals live in small herds and have outdoor exercise all year round. All their feed is sourced from organic production and the preventive use of antibiotics is prohibited. Independent, state-accredited institutions inspect both the farms and the processing operations each year. In addition to the official inspections, our label programmes Naturaplan and Naturafarm also undergo regular and unannounced transport inspections by SAP.

Promoting Naturafarm

We sell Swiss meat and Swiss eggs under our own-label Naturafarm brand from animals that are free range or have access to range. Rearing, fattening, slaughtering and processing must take place in Switzerland. In addition to meeting the requirements of the Federal animal husbandry programmes PAS (particularly animal-friendly stabling) and ROEL (regular outdoor exercise for livestock), the brand has complete quality monitoring with comprehensive traceability back to the producer. Natura-Veal guarantees that in addition to having access to pasture, calves grow up with their mothers. The soya used in feed for Naturafarm animals is from certified, sustainable production in Europe in accordance with the Danube Soya guidelines. No soya is used in feed for animals in the Natura-Beef or Natura-Veal programmes. The Naturafarm guidelines are more stringent than the Swiss Animal Protection Act. SAP regularly carries out unannounced checks to ensure compliance.

Pioneering projects to promote animal welfare

Rearing dual-purpose chickens to avoid the need to kill male chicks

Each year, around two million male chicks from laying hen rearing programmes are killed because they are not suitable for fattening and don't lay eggs. To counter this, at the start of 2014 we launched a field trial at some of our organic Naturaplan farms to test whether a new breed of chicken could be used to produce "dual-purpose" chickens. The female chickens are used for egg production and the males for fattening. The results of the field tests were good, and dual purpose chickens are now being reared for Coop on around ten organic farms.

Natura-Veal and Natura-Beef: In the meadow with their mothers

We have been selling meat from animals reared using suckler cow husbandry since the early 1980s. As the name suggests, these cows and calves grow up in the fields with their mothers, making suckler cow husbandry the most natural form of cattle-rearing. The meat from these animals is available from our retail outlets under the Natura-Veal and Natura-Beef brands, with the Naturafarm quality seal.

Calves reared using suckler cow husbandry (Natura-Veal) stay with their mothers for five months and drink their mothers' milk. The cows (Natura-Beef) live with their mothers for ten months. In addition to their mothers' milk their main diet is fresh grass and hay. This provides them with lots of natural proteins and removes the need to supplement their feed with soya. The animals can go outside whenever they wish, either to the field or – in winter and in adverse weather – to the exercise yard.

More information about Natura-Veal and Natura-Beef

Pigs which live in fields and on the slopes

Pigs spend a significant proportion of the time during which they are active (6-8 hours) searching for food. In their natural environment they do this by rooting in woods and fields. This need can be met to a certain extent in the Naturafarm programme by the provision of long-stem straw. Our pigs which live in fields and on the slopes have access to natural ground and can follow their natural desire of rooting for food.

Imported poultry that meets Swiss standards

We import poultry due to the high demand for it. We have worked with foreign poultry suppliers to help them establish animal husbandry practices based on the model of the Swiss Federal PAS programme (particularly animal-friendly stabling) with more sitting areas and more space in the housing, bedding, and access to a covered outdoor area. This means our imported poultry is produced according to the requirements of the Swiss Animal Protection Act. In addition to the official inspections, SAP conducts regular inspections of the housing, transport and slaughtering of this poultry.