Cultivation & Raw Materials

Migros is committed to the acquisition of raw materials in a way that conserves resources and to socially responsible working conditions along the value chain. Since 2016, all fish and seafood sold by Migros has originated from sustainable sources.

Migros aims to use raw materials that have been grown or extracted with respect for people, animals and the environment, and which are traded fairly. In addition to Cooperative Retailing, all companies of the Migros Group are gradually implementing the basic requirements for suppliers and product range. Migros' supply chains extend around the world. To ensure that producers of raw materials receive a fair price for their goods, Migros and its partners are committed to fair production conditions.

In 2016, Cooperative Retailing defined and began to implement comprehensive minimum requirements and added-value criteria for several raw materials: bananas, prawns, eggs, palm oil, rice, soy and wheat. The minimum requirements include the RTRS standard for soy products and must be implemented for the entire range. Added-value criteria constitute a holistic approach to improved sustainability (e.g. soy from organic cultivation) and apply to particularly sustainable parts of the range.

Projects for sustainable agriculture

Migros supports producers and projects that are fully committed to sustainable and responsible production and which cover all aspects of sustainability: environment, economics and social issues.

TerraSuisse: committed to natural Swiss agriculture

The Migros label TerraSuisse denotes products that originate exclusively from sustainable Swiss agriculture. With sales of CHF 708 million, TerraSuisse is Migros' biggest-selling sustainable label.

In the reporting year, Migros and IP-Suisse extended their long-term contracts for cereal by five years. This secures their partnership through to harvest in 2023.

TerraSuisse was established in partnership with the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach and the association of Swiss integrated production farmers (IP-Suisse). With the label, Migros makes an active commitment to near-nature and animal-friendly Swiss agriculture.

Bananas from WWF model project

The aim is for all bananas in the Migros range to originate from environmentally and socially sustainable cultivation by the end of 2017.

Migros already implements the minimum requirements for banana cultivation in accordance with the "Rainforest Alliance" standard. The WWF model project defines 300 additional measures for ensuring socially and environmentally responsible cultivation. These include the use of fewer pesticides, protection of the diversity of species, responsible use of water and waste water, and improved waste reprocessing.

In addition, the farms in Columbia and Ecuador are optimising working conditions and occupational health and safety for their workers. WWF experts advise the farms during implementation of the measures, and the progress is reviewed regularly by independent auditors. Bananas are transported to Switzerland in returnable containers made of plastic, which generate three times less CO2 than cardboard banana boxes.

Lettuce grown with hydroponics

In the reporting year, the Migros Cooperatives Aare, Lucerne and Zurich introduced lettuce grown by hydroponics. Triosalat consists of three types of lettuce and is sold with root balls to keep it fresh for longer. Across an area of one hectare, some 2 million heads of lettuce can be produced each year using hydroponics; about eight hectares would be needed to grow the same amount in open fields.

In comparison with the lettuce cultivation methods usually seen in Switzerland, the farm offers clear environmental advantages throughout the year. Hydroponics uses about 70% less water, 90% less pesticides and 50% less fertiliser than open-field cultivation. The greenhouse is heated with heat from the adjoining incineration plant. Thanks to all-year-round production in the region, the volume of curly leaf lettuce imported by the Migros Cooperative Aare in 2016 was reduced by 13%.

"In the SustainFarm project, Agroscope is testing its method for assessing sustainability on farms, developed with the support of Migros."

Maria Bystricky, Project Manager Agroscope

Research projects

In 2016, Migros supported various research projects that aim to make agriculture more sustainable. With the support of Migros, Agroscope – the federal government's centre of excellence for agricultural research – launched a project to research the risk that pesticides pose to people and the environment and to suggest alternatives.

Over the next four years, a project initiated in the reporting year by Agroscope, IP-Suisse and Migros will research the feasibility of almost 30 indicators for a comprehensive assessment of sustainability on Swiss farms. The aim is to create a workable, holistic system to assess farms in terms of the environment, profitability and social issues.

Protection of forests

According to WWF, forests in many regions of the world are at risk due to overuse and destruction. Tropical forests are most heavily affected, due among other things to deforestation associated with non-sustainable and non-certified cultivation of palm oil and soy.

As a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Migros has been committed to the sustainable production of palm oil since 2004. It also supports the supply of soy from European production and actively searches for alternative sources of protein to supplement soy in animal feed. The requirements for the sustainable procurement of soy and palm oil are also part of the basic requirements that apply to all companies of the Migros Group and which are implemented gradually by them. 

Palm oil and soy from sustainable sources

In the latest WWF palm oil rating, Migros was awarded the maximum score of nine points. It therefore occupies a leading position among the 137 companies assessed worldwide. Migros was given this excellent rating as a result of the use of 100% physically sustainable palm oil in the food production of M-Industry.

As a member of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and a founding member and head of Soy Network Switzerland, Migros makes a commitment to the responsible production of soy. Soy Network Switzerland was founded in 2011. In the reporting year, it was converted into an association that promotes responsible cultivation of soy and raises awareness of the topic among the public.

Micarna AG uses only Donau soy from European production in the production of animal feed for the poultry brand Optigal. According to a life cycle assessment performed by Agroscope, Optigal operates one of the most environmentally friendly poultry fattening systems. The change of feed has reduced environmental emissions considerably.

In 2016, Migros began introducing soy-free feed for all organically raised laying hens throughout Switzerland. The switch to soy-free feed should be completed by the end of this year. Sunflower meal, a by-product of sunflower oil production, will replace soy as the protein component in hen feed.

Protection of the seas

Fish consumption is increasing worldwide, with negative consequences for the planet's oceans: according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), almost a third of all fish stocks are overfished and a further 61% are at maximum capacity. As a member of the WWF Seafood Group, Migros takes ocean overfishing seriously and is constantly expanding its range of fish products from sustainable sources.

By the end of 2020, Cooperative Retailing is aiming to sell only fish and seafood that either conforms to a sustainable label (MSC, ASC or Bio) or which has been categorised as recommended or acceptable by WWF. Migros achieved this objective ahead of schedule in the reporting year: at the end of 2016, it became the first retailer in Switzerland to ensure that all fish in its fresh and frozen, convenience and tinned products originates from sustainable sources.

The Migros Group retailers have also made a pledge to remove all fish species from their range that have been classified as "hands off" by WWF. A discontinuation of endangered or overfished species is part of the Migros Group's basic requirements. At the end of 2016, 98.8% of the fish and seafood range met the guidelines. By the end of 2016, the M-Industry companies had also removed all fish from their range that is classified as "hands off" by WWF.

In the Migros Group, the proportion of MSC-certified products in the range of wild-caught fish was 60.0%, and the proportion of ASC or Bio-certified products in the range of farmed fish was 40.4%. Developments in the product range of butcher Mérat & Cie AG were pleasing: 40.6% of the fish was MSC and ASC-certified (2015: 12.7%).

In the reporting year, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) conducted a study on behalf of Migros to find out how the health of juvenile fish could be improved without medication. The focus was on various herbal protective substances that can boost the immune system of juvenile fish. The first findings from this ongoing study are expected in 2018.

Socially sustainable cultivation

Migros imports a whole variety of commodities from countries in the southern hemisphere. These include coffee, tea and cocoa, fruit and vegetables, nuts and rice. The small-scale farmers in these countries often have no way of selling their goods at fair prices on the global market. Migros applies the Fairtrade Max Havelaar and UTZ labels to ensure socially responsible and fair working conditions at local level and sustainable cultivation.

Fairtrade Max Havelaar: fruit from Mexico for juice production

Bischofszell Nahrungsmittel AG stepped up its commitment in 2016: in addition to working directly with farmers in Brazil, it now also works with Mexican fruit producers. The small-scale farmers on the Yucatan Peninsula receive a Fairtrade premium for their oranges and grapefruit. The community uses these funds to run a tree nursery and distribute the trees to the farmers. About 60'000 new trees have already been planted. Sustainably produced pink grapefruit juice has been sold under the "Gold" brand since the middle of the reporting year.

Support for mango farmers in Ghana

In the reporting year, Delica initiated a project for mango farmers in Ghana. Local agronomists teach the farmers how to recognise the ideal time to harvest, and show them natural measures to combat pests and maintain the tree population. Through targeted knowledge, the farmers can improve the quality of their fruit and thus boost their income.

GlobalGAP GRASP – monitored working conditions in the Mediterranean

in addition to the international standard for good agricultural practices GlobalGAP, which also defines principles for occupational health and safety, the supplementary module GRASP (GlobalGAP Risk Assessment on Social Practice) addresses further social aspects on farms, such as working hours and pay. The Migros Group applies the standard to fruit and vegetable operations in Italy, Spain, Greece and Israel.

In the reporting year, the Migros Group requested for the first time that producers in these countries undergo audits pursuant to GRASP's audit checklist, which was revised in 2015. Centralised monitoring at Group level via the GlobalGAP online platform was also introduced, which facilitates systematic checks, simplifies processes and allows the exploitation of synergies within the Group.

53.3% of the fruit and vegetable producers that supply Migros were assessed according to the supplementary module GlobalGAP GRASP. The implementation of the standard looks as follows:

GlobalGAP GRASP implementation by strategic business unit 

number of producers
Industry & Wholesaling Commerce Migros Group total
Number of producers from high-risk countries
2015 9779 13852 20206 43837
2016 19466 11168 24224 54858
Number of producers from high-risk countries with GRASP audit
2015 4938 7149 7354 19441
2016 11392 6228 11597 29217
Implementation rate GRASP
2015 50% 52% 36% 44%
2016 59% 56% 48% 53%

During an inspection visit in southern Italy, Migros representatives investigated how vegetable farms implement the GRASP guidelines, how the operations are organised, and which additional risks may arise due to increasing migration.

Animal welfare

Demand for meat, dairy products and eggs is rising. At the same time, animal-friendly husbandry is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Animal welfare is included in the basic requirements for suppliers and product ranges that must be met by all Migros Group companies. Among other things, they relate to the import of rabbits in accordance with Swiss animal welfare standards, no sale of eggs or products containing eggs from battery hens, and a ban on live plucking in the production of down.

Swiss animal welfare standards – focus on abroad

Migros also aims to introduce Swiss animal welfare standards in Cooperative Retailing for all products from abroad by the end of 2020. In 2016, it took a step closer to achieving this objective.

"We recognise Migros' leadership on farm animal welfare and its commitment to advancing higher farm animal welfare across all relevant species and regions."

Nicky Amos, Executive Director, BBFAW

Together with its suppliers and Swiss Animal Protection (SAP), Migros has brought its poultry farming for chickens and turkeys in Hungary, Germany and France into line with the requirements of Swiss animal welfare regulations and even exceeded some. For example, turkeys now have particularly animal-friendly raised perches and get regular exercise. In 2016, Migros was presented with the Good Chicken Award by the animal protection organisation Compassion in World Farming, in recognition of the fact that it sources its fresh poultry exclusively from suppliers that work in accordance with Swiss animal welfare regulations.

For its efforts in the area of animal welfare, Migros was promoted to the best group in the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare Rating (BBFAW). The British organisation BBFAW rates companies around the world on the basis of their commitment to animal welfare.

Migros will continue to extend the Swiss animal welfare standards to other species of animals abroad, such as water buffalo (mozzarella) and laying hens (eggs). The current situation per animal species can be viewed on the website.

Research projects to increase animal welfare

In the area of animal welfare, Migros works closely with various research institutions. In 2016, it supported a project by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), aimed at studying the effectiveness of medicinal plants in the treatment of sick piglets and calves as an alternative to antibiotics.

A project by the University of Bern's Vetsuisse Faculty, IP-Suisse and Migros is also concerned with animal welfare in calf fattening. The project is researching a completely new calf fattening system, with the aim of improving the health of calves and reducing the use of medication.

Animal welfare in the non-food area

In 2016, Migros Cooperative Retailing performed an assessment for animal products in the non-food area. These include down, leather, fur and wool. All suppliers were assessed to check whether they meet Migros' requirements, and corresponding evidence was requested. For the raw material down, all suppliers were able to provide certificates to prove that they do not engage in live plucking. Migros maintains dialogue with suppliers that are not yet able to provide all the required evidence for a raw material, and helps them to meet the requirements.

In the reporting year, Globus and Herren Globus joined Schild in the international "Fur Free Retailer Program". From the 2017/18 autumn/winter season, they will no longer sell any products made from or containing real fur. This decision proves the Globus Group's commitment to ethical principles and animal welfare.

Cultivation & Raw Materials (pdf, 81.89 KB)