Minister Schouten will price unsustainable food in supermarkets: What is the next step?

The production of our food can cause damage to nature and the climate. These are hidden costs that we do not see in the sale price. “As a consumer, you do not see the difference in the supermarket between how something is produced and what it means for the living environment,” Schouten tells Zembla. “I think there are still steps to be taken.” Schouten therefore wants a tax on products that are produced less sustainably. In that case, make sure that the tax does not go into the larger whole of the tax, but that it goes to a special fund, for example, so that it can again be used to cover the farmer’s costs for sustainability. Then the blade cuts both ways. The price of conventional and more sustainable products will be more equal, and at the same time it will be ensured that the farmer is compensated for the extra costs he will have to continue the conversion, ”says Schouten.

Documents obtained by Zembla following an appeal to the Public Access to Information Act show that supermarkets do not want to make firm agreements to pay a higher price to farmers who produce more sustainably. “I would like supermarkets to take steps in this direction,” says Schouten of Zembla. “I also wish we could have made deals there sooner.” Schouten has had all the big supermarkets at the table. She says the supermarkets mainly mention their own sustainable initiatives during these discussions. Schouten finds this insufficient. “There are times when I think, boy, why does it all take so long. Why is it not faster?”

The supermarkets have not wanted to respond in Zembla. The trade association CBL (Central Bureau for Food Trade) stated per. e-mail: “CBL does not agree with the claim that there is too little visible in the field to promote sustainable food because it does not do justice to the measures taken in recent years. put. ”

How do the true price experts view the minister’s intention?

Michel Scholte

He is the co-founder and CEO of True Price. He strives to make the ‘right price’ transparent to consumers and suppliers.

“Minister Carola Schouten has balls by saying so explicitly about transparency and incentives based on real prices. Sustainable and healthy choices must be cheaper than unsustainable and unhealthy choices. That is the most important point in our food system and even the entire economic system.

If we really want to get started, we can do more things. Mandatory transparency of the real price; what are the costs of repairing water, air, soil, biodiversity and climate damage. In addition, you can request voluntary payment; people who have and want to afford should also be able to do so. Finally, you can settle it by default – for example in VAT rates or excise duties. For example, you can give products with higher social costs than the average a higher VAT rate. And products with lower social costs at a favorable price. This creates an incentive for a sustainable product. You can enter this for specific products and also for each type of impact. For example, you can start with a CO2 footprint because you can calculate it quite easily.

There is a gigantic group of entrepreneurs who are eager to seize the minister’s assistance. There is a supermarket (De Aanzet) that already takes real prices and the number of customers has increased by 5 percent, according to the owner. And there are dozens of supermarkets engaged in practical experiments; with transparency and payments. The CBL (Central Bureau of Food Trade) can also learn from this and, like the Minister, should show a little more balls; genuine entrepreneurship for a new economy! “


Maarten Rijninks

Maarten Rijninks has a long history in organic food, including director of AgroFair, director of the Natuurwinkel organization and later of FairConnect. He is also co-owner of De Aanzet in Amsterdam, a supermarket that takes real prices and you as a consumer pay climate tax.

“It is fantastic that Carola Schouten is commenting on this. There has long been an argument for meat in the high VAT rate, but now there finally seems to be a serious call coming from politics. This minister is convinced that the industry needs to change. It is no longer possible to postpone a decision on our food industry. It’s very simple: if we do nothing, the world would be better off without humanity. Then the damage we cause is irreversible.

In my supermarket, I am focused on the right price instrument. But of course there are several ways to go. For example, we work with BioNederland and Biovereniging, and we will open 30 supermarkets with real prices next year. That is ten percent of the suppliers. The following year, we will open 80 new supermarkets and get 25 percent of suppliers to work with real prices. If the upscaling goes well, there will be a large grit that does this as well. We get 5 percent more customers in our store. It is a good motivation for larger supermarket chains to start working with real prices.

There is increasing attention among the customers. That is why the system of real prices fits so well into our current economic system. You can use it anywhere: from retail to catering. We are proof that it also brings in even more customers. The big supermarkets have to change course. ”

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