The Wurst! German Supermarket Doubles Sausage Prices to Show ‘True Cost’ to Environment

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 18: A host hands a visitor a bratwurst in bread at a meat company's stand at the 2013 Gruene Woche agricultural trade fair on January 18, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The Gruene Woche, which is the world's largest agricultural trade fair, runs from January 18-27, and …
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A leading German supermarket chain has sparked controversy for raising the price of key food items in order to demonstrate to the people the alleged “true price” to the environment and people’s health.

Penny Markt, which has over 2,000 stores across Germany, raised the price of staple food items such as cheese and sausages by as much as 94 per cent in a bid to demonstrate how environmentally conscious the company is.

According to a report from Der Spiegel, the supermarket chain has so far only applied its “true price” system to nine of the more than 3,000 products on its shelves.

The scheme has seen a pack of Vienna sausages increase from 3.19 euros to 6.01 euros overnight. Meanwhile, the “true price” of a vegan schnitzel was only a few cents higher than the original price.

The company said that it wanted to raise awareness about the future impact of some foods on the environment and on the health of the public.

“We need to put out the uncomfortable message that the prices of our foodstuffs which are accrued along the supply chain in no way reflect the environmental on-costs,” the company’s chief operating officer Stefan Görges said.

The grocer has been criticised for engaging in the green stunt amid a cost of living crisis in which many Germans are struggling to make ends meet, with supermarket bills being a top expense already and inflation still sitting at above six per cent.

Marketing expert Hans-Willi Schroiff noted that the green campaign could not have come at a worse time, saying: “The point in time is problematic when the majority of consumers are suffering from the still high inflation.”

“Prices are not going down, they have stabilised at this high level,” he added. “I think it’s difficult to pull the ‘costs’ for future and intangible factors out of the customer’s wallet now.”

The move has also riled German farmers, who accused the company of trying to “greenwash” its image and that if anything the extra profits from the green levy should be sent to them given that supermarket chains typically use their immense buying power to whittle down prices in negotiations with farmers.

The campaign has won the support of Greenpeace, who praised the project for demonstrating to the public that “a lot of food is produced without regard to the environment and climate.”

Penny is not alone among German grocers trying to use their positions for climate activism, with Lidl announcing earlier this year that it plans on cutting down on the amount of meat sold in order to prop up “alternative” protein sources to somehow save the environment.

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