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Alnatura grows differently

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Even 35 years after the opening of the first Alnatura Super Natur market in Mannheim, the German organic company is extremely active. New openings, delivery services, the establishment of a foundation and, not to forget, new trading partners at home and abroad. The latter aspect is mentioned in the communication and at the annual press conference, but it deserves more attention. After all, this business area contributes about half of the turnover and should be a not insignificant factor in the Alnatura concept. In addition, the establishment of a double foundation deserves attention. According to founder Götz Rehn, the claim "Meaningful for people and the earth" should still apply in 100 years. The company's various initiatives are reflected in the 5th sustainability report.

Under the sign of sustainability: The 17 UN sustainability goals are firmly anchored on the Alnatura campus and in the company.

The average bonus is rising again

Alnatura Produktions- und Handels GmbH can be pleased - in a difficult market and economic situation - to have survived 2022 so smoothly, with only a 2.5% decline. The turnover of 1.123 billion euros is still significantly higher than in 2019/ 20. Two years ago, the Corona crisis had catapulted Alnatura over the billion euro mark for the first time with an increase of 19.6%. Founder and CEO Götz Rehn is satisfied with the quite moderate decline in turnover compared to the rest of the specialised retail sector, especially since the situation in the retail sector has stabilised again since September and customers are buying more again: "The average receipt is rising again, and so are customer numbers".

Petra Schäfer (left) and Götz Rehn (management) assess the decline in turnover calmly and with confidence that there will be growth again in the current business year.

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war and the onset of inflation, Alnatura has not necessarily lost customers, they have only turned to cheaper products, Rehn explains one reason for the decline in sales. In general, it should be noted that prices for organic food have risen much less than for conventional food.

In addition, Alnatura has done a lot to attract customers in terms of price, such as permanent low prices, savings prices and student discounts. This, however, with consistently high and, as far as possible, regional quality, as Rehn emphasised at the annual press conference on 10.11.2022 at the company headquarters on the Alnatura Campus. This has been rewarded with prizes such as the overall winner of the Kundenmonitor (Servicebarometer AG study), the Fruchthandel Magazin Award 2022 and the Best Brands Award. With additional new services (delivery, delivery bicycles, reusable assortment) and seven new openings by September 2022 to a total of 147, the SuperNaturMarkt stores have defied the crisis.

Satisfied customers are a high priority for Alnatura.

Optimistic about the future despite a dip in sales

"We are well prepared for the next few years", says Götz Rehn, he expects stable prices and growth again in the future. The expansion of the company's own branch network and the general overhaul of older SuperNatur stores will continue unabated in 2023. However, Rehn describes external costs such as packaging, energy and logistics, whose development is unpredictable due to the global situation, as a challenge. In some cases, rising raw material prices are also to be expected. He considers the effect that fewer farmers will have the courage to convert to other crops and that there may be conversions back to other crops to be worse. Here he clearly misses the stronger commitment of politics, which after all has issued the 30% organic target by 2030. In order to achieve this goal, Rehn said, much more initiative was needed. For example, he would like to see a large-scale information campaign that shows consumers that by buying organic products they are supporting climate protection and sustainability and thus a future worth living. Petra Schäfer from the management team explained Alnatura's future strategy: "It is about us consistently continuing on our path."

The vision - clearly visible to all employees and visitors in the entrance hall of the Alnatura headquarters.

"Meaningful for people and the earth"

The corporate mission "Meaningful for people and the earth" is reflected in various initiatives of the company such as the Alnatura Organic Farmers Initiative ABBI or the We-Care certification, which tests supply chain and environmental management as well as employee responsibility. Further measures of the company such as the holistic mobility management or the materiality matrix, which describes the sustainability topics that are important for Alnatura, are recorded in detail in the sustainability report.

Alnatura Campus in Darmstadt with its climate-neutral company headquarters, the home of the Alnatura working group.

In addition, the establishment of the double foundation "Alnatura Foundation" and "Götz E. Rehn Foundation" (family foundation) deserves attention. According to founder Götz Rehn, the principle "Meaningful for people and the earth" should still apply in 100 years. For this reason, he decided in favour of the double foundation model when looking for a succession plan in line with the company's vision. The company is to remain true to the corporate vision and not be sold. The non-profit Alnatura Foundation will be the owner of the company shares and will promote art, culture, science, research, development aid, environmental protection and other fields oriented towards the common good. The Götz E. Rehn Foundation is a family foundation. It bundles the voting rights and ensures the continuity of Alnatura, Rehn describes the division.

Where does the company founder see Alnatura in the future? "We want more and more people to be able to buy Alnatura products at reasonable and fair prices. So that more organic is brought into the world and more and more people realise that organic farming represents a great opportunity to overcome the climate crisis" (Götz Rehn in the sustainability report).

Author/Photos: Karin Heinze, BiO Reporter International

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