Germany’s leading organic retailer Alnatura celebrated ‘30 years in Bio’ in 2014, posted record sales growth, is ramping up its retail store expansion with 10 more Alnatura Super Natural Markets planned for 2015, and opened its fourth Alnatura organic supermarket with Swiss retailer Migros.
Alnatura has reported a sales record for the full year to September 30, 2014 with sales jumping by 17% to 689 million euros, an increase of 16% over the previous year, compared with a 7% growth in 2013 for the entire German organic market.
Götz Rehn, founder and CEO of the company, explained the above-average growth with the ever-increasing customer demand that comes thirty years after the founding of the Alnatura Bio-trading company from the Hesse Bickenbach region of Germany.
“The guiding principle of customer focus our actions for three decades, if we manage to inspire our customers to show them the meaningfulness of our actions, then we reap esteem and ultimately economic success,” he said.
“More than ever, Alnatura increasingly gains confirmation from its customers that they feel connected to Alnatura and that we are meeting their needs.”
A published October 2014 representative survey by market research institute Forsa notes that Alnatura is the most popular food brand in Germany, the first time a member of the organic industry has led large conventional brands like Coca-Cola or Milka.
Currently there are 92 Super Natural Markets in 42 cities in nine provinces. The first Alnatura Super Natural Market opened in Dusseldorf in late November, followed by the 11th store in Berlin and the 11th store in Munich in December.
In the 2014 fiscal year Alnatura opened ten new Super Natural Markets, in Munich, Berlin, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Ulm, Ravensburg and Freiburg. At least ten new stores are planned for the current fiscal year, including in Dusseldorf, Potsdam, Bensheim, Berlin, Munich and Hamburg.
“Especially in inner city locations customers want more Alnatura Super Natural Markets,” the retailer said.
Very encouraging is the development of the cooperation with Migros, the largest retail company in Switzerland. Since the opening of the first Alnatura organic supermarket in Zurich in August 2012, four branches have been added, the latest in late November in Winterthur.
Another milestone is the introduction of over 300 Alnatura products currently in 75 Migros markets as well as the additional sales through the online store of Migros.
The strong demand for Alnatura products also led to an expansion of its distribution of goods. After 15 months of construction, Alnatura has again expanded significantly in Lorsch constructing the world’s largest high-bay storage timber-based distribution warehouse.
The shelves and facade wood used in the construction were PEFC certified spruce and larch wood from Germany and Austria. The architecture uses the latest ecological insights, while the building comes without heating and additional cooling and working climate-neutral.
Alnatura expands organic brands, organic farmers Initiative
“The range of products Alnatura achieved with currently 1,160 articles or lines sets a new high. No other organic brand in Germany has such a wide range as Alnatura,” the retailer said.
“For the financial year 2014/2015, 40 new Alnatura products are planned: 96% of Alnatura manufacturer partners are small and medium-sized enterprises, which are established to 80% percent in Germany; 20% are provided from neighbouring countries.
“The most important distribution channel for Alnatura products are currently around 3,750 branches of trading partners in 14 countries, such as dm drugstore market, tegut, Budni, hit, Globe, AEZ, Cactus, and Migros.”
The holistic philosophy behind the brand Alnatura is summarized in the “Alnatura Bio 7 Initiative“. The central project for the coming years is the “Alnatura organic farmers Initiative”.
The number of organic farmers in Germany declined in relation to the product demand and tends more and more towards zero (2013: + 2.5%).
Alnatura said this development is mainly due to high rents and lower earnings prospects for conversion willing farmers are responsible, both consequences of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).
“In light of the currently negotiations in the EU bodies for complete revision of the EU organic regulation, the Commission plans to make organic farmers for pesticide drift from conventional agriculture responsible and the introduction of a separate, more stringent bio-limit for any residues,” Alnatura said.
However, according to the retailer, a Federal Government, the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and agriculture ministers meeting gained an unusual consensus with the organic industry in Germany: They reject the new total revision and argue instead for selective improvements to the in 2009 completely revised EU Organic Regulation.
Due to this difficult situation Alnatura initiated together with the German Society for Nature Conservation, the umbrella organization of organizations active in nature, animal and environmental protection, the Alnatura organic farmers initiative. The aim is to convert an area of 3,000 acres to organic farming by 2020. For this conversion interested farms are identified, discussed and supported with funds. The main idea of this initiative starting in 2015 says it all: “Together making up ground.”
Anniversary year achievements, awards
In its anniversary in 2014, almost 3,000 customers have participated in a design competition for the packaging of six Alnatura Anniversary products. From each product sold flowed 30 cents in 101 conservation projects of the Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) and 158,500 euros were able to be donated to local BUND projects.
Environmental projects and achievements during the 2014 year included a new animal welfare program for organic laying hens in spring 2014.
Public recognition of the company’s performance was enhanced by two awards: Götz Rehn received in September 2014 BAUM Environmental Award; and for Alnatura in November, the Golden Sugar Loaf, regarded as the most important prize of the food industry.
Götz Rehn CEO said: “Our working group has been living for 30 years, the theme, useful for humans and the earth; if so many people feel thereof addressed, then that is an appreciation of our commitment.”
This recognition is also reflected in the award ‘Germany’s Best Employer’ by the news magazine Focus, which Alnatura received in the category of medium-sized companies in the retail sector.
Alnatura employees were presented with a gift certificate for the amount of 700 euros, and in the jubilee year an additional bonus of 300 euros.
The continued high customer acceptance and the increasing demand for Alnatura products also has an impact on the number of employees. In the past fiscal year, the Alnatura Working Group has grown by 220 to a total of 2,320 employees, including 145 apprentices.