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Bio Company, German champion in sustainability and regionality
by Karin Heinze (comments: 0)
Bio Company a Berlin original. Photo © Karin Heinze
Once again, Berlin-based Bio Company experienced growth in 2017 and it sees itself well positioned for the future. The company's first stores were launched in Berlin almost 20 years ago. For Georg Kaiser, co-founder and CEO at Bio Company, merely selling organic products was not enough. So, he insisted on offering products from the metropolitan region of Berlin-Brandenburg and built up a network of regional suppliers. For this CO₂ saving measure as an important part of the sustainability strategy, the company has been rewarded.
Turnover developing well
This organic supermarkets in Berlin achieved turnover of 157 million euros in 2017. This means that, compared with the 145 million euros the year before, turnover increased by a good 8.3% and was again above the average for the industry. The German specialist wholefood trade recorded total growth of 2.5% in 2017. At the end of December 2017, Bio Company employed 1,570 people, including 111 trainees. In April 2018 it opened its fifty-fifth store and this market leader now has 49 outlets in Berlin-Brandenburg, four in Hamburg and two in Dresden.
Georg Kaiser is the co-founder and CEO of Bio Company. Photo © Karin Heinze
More than 100 suppliers in the metropolitan region
“Our regional concept, that is both long-term and transparent for our customers, has shown our approach is the right one,” says CEO Georg Kaiser. Bio Company recently received the “Regionalstar 2018” for its impressive regional concept – awarded by the magazine Lebensmittelpraxis and the International Green Week. “We'll continue intensifying and extending our sustainability strategy,” explains Kaiser. “This involves a tight-knit network of over 100 suppliers in Berlin and Brandenburg, and also the further reduction in CO₂ by means of state-of-the-art energy efficiency in our stores, plus a sustainable mobility concept.” And in 2018 they're going to publish a sustainability report for the first time. “We want to identify where and how we can further improve and optimize our performance,” Kaiser insists. They are going to offer more loose products in dispensers, so that customers can fill their own bags and containers. Bio Company is also active in animal welfare - one cent per own-brand egg goes to ecological breeding, where both hens and male chickens are reared and male chicks are no longer killed.
The priority given to the regional network of suppliers helps to reduce CO₂. The principle of as short supply routes as possible applies to all store locations and is continuing to be rolled out. In the Berlin-Brandenburg region there are now 100 businesses supplying Bio Company, in Hamburg a good 60, plus 30 in Dresden. This local supply strategy is intended not only to guarantee the freshness of products but also to strengthen the regional infrastructure with small and medium-size businesses.
Around 40% of fruits and vegetables are sourced in the region. Photo © Karin Heinze
Reduction in CO2 emissions and a sustainable mobility concept
Bio Company is continuing to improve its CO2 reduction performance in its stores. All the recent stores operate with energy-efficient heat recovery systems in refrigeration units, so that there is no need for heating in the buildings – a 100 percent saving of energy to keep a store warm. 35 stores already operate this latest environmental standard and some of the older stores are in the process of conversion. The plan is to complete this energy-efficient upgrade of all their outlets by the end of 2019. In order to achieve energy reduction, glass doors have been fitted to the fresh food shelves and you also find LED lighting everywhere, all of which saves up to 40 percent of electricity.
Bio Company is also beginning to implement a sustainable mobility concept that will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 percent. This applies not only to the firm's own vehicles, including delivery vehicles, but also to the cars of employees used for company business. The long-term aim is always to choose the most sustainable means of transport for a particular journey.
Pictures of regional partners in a Bio Company supermarket. Photo © Karin Heinze
5 years Biomanufaktur Havelland - Turnover quadrupled
In 2013, the Biomanufaktur Havelland for meat and sausage was taken over by the Bio Company as a wholly owned subsidiary from the insolvency, and in 2017 it achieved sales of EUR 10.2 million. The success was more than vague, but sales increased rapidly, reaching four times the level of 2013 in 2017, and now almost 2 million euros are being invested to modernize and expand capacities. Currently, 1.5 tons of sausage are produced daily. The Biomanufaktur Havelland had already successfully completed the energetic renovation at the end of 2015. Through combined heat and power generation and a photovoltaic system, the company operates CO2 neutrally and produces its own energy.
Biomanufaktur Havelland is the main producer for meat and sausages sold in Bio Company stores. Photo © Karin Heinze
Largest regional organic meat and sausage processing plant
Biomanufaktur Havelland is the largest processing plant for meat and sausage, but also the only one of this size. This was another reason for Bio Company to take over the business in order to ensure regional supply. "But the fact that we are so successful shows that our customers also appreciate this unique, regional meat quality. This has a lot to do with transparency and credibility," says Georg Kaiser. The Biomanufaktur is the main supplier for more than 50 Bio Company branches
The number of employees increased from 2013 with 15 employees of the former Biomanufaktur Velten to 35 employees of Biomanufaktur Havelland. Without question: The company is on the road to success. "We are also counting on a positive development for the future," says Managing Director Thomas Schubert with confidence. The company offers 300 products in its range: in addition to the fresh food area, this is also a self-service line for the refrigerated counters of Bio Company. Specialities in the program are above all the Havelländer Organic Apple Pork, the Uckermärker Beef as well as lamb, everything from the region. The company also produces delicatessen salads and lunch dishes in its own kitchen. Four chefs were hired. The company is also expanding its offer in the gastronomy and hotel business.