Germany’s GMO-free poultry meat pioneer STOLLE reports growth

Comment by TraceConsult™: In our coverage of the release of the German “Ohne Gentechnik” seal by Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner on 10 August 2009 we already reported on the pioneer poultry producer, Gebrüder Stolle. Itself certified under Intertek’s Non GMO Standard, the company’s own feed mill, BEST 3, uses essentially raw material certified from Brazil to Europe by Cert ID under that company’s Non-GMO Standard.

While not required by law, using certified feed components and becoming certified under such a standard oneself is the best assurance for a European producer to make a GMO-free claim under the law of the respective country where the production is based. In the EU, at the moment such claims are regulated in Austria and Germany, in the making are France and Ireland, while Italy offers a segmented possibility.

Stolle, Germany’s second-largest poultry producer, as well as other manufacturers of food products, has reported that since their entry into the GMO-free claims sector sales have grown despite a general trend in the opposite direction. Probably the most prominent member among such companies is FrieslandCampina Germany, on whose reported sales increase of its Landliebe premium brand we commented on 22 June as well as on 21 September 2009.

In Austria, the pioneer in GMO-free claims legislation with its Codex Alimentarius Austriacus, hundreds of products already bear the “Gentechnik-frei erzeugt” seal.

Companies have already become aware of the fact that the EU’s common market principle offers interesting intra-EU export opportunities for GMO-free claimed products even to Member States where such claims currently are not regulated at all. For example, an Austrian or a German manufacturer could export his product carrying a GMO-free claim on the package in compliance with the laws of the producing country to a country like the United Kingdom, where not one product currently carries such a claim. The common market principle gives such a manufacturer the right to do so – and a hitherto unknown competitive situation would arise in the target market.

Needless to say that both Austria and Germany require GMO-free feed ingredients to be used in such a claim program. This means authorities verify that raw materials are below the general detection limit of 0.1 percent GMO content. Anything above that threshold, must prove to be adventitious or technically unavoidable. Anything other ingredients would fall under the scope of EU Regulations (EC) No. 1829/2003 and 1830/2003 and would have to be labeled as containing GMOs – a certain way to be excluded in a GMO-free claims production.


Germany’s poultry meat pioneer for GMO-free

This article was previously published in Poultry International 12/2009 under the headline

GMO-free product line introduced in Germany

Date: 2009-12-15

By Norman Dunn

German producer Gebrüder Stolle has a new label on the home market, the first GMO-fee chicken meat.


The new gene technology-free logo introduced by Germany earlier this year.

Pioneer work from German poultry integrator Gebrüder Stolle has brought the first chicken meat products onto the market with a label that reads “produced without gene technology”.

“This is not only a first for GMO-free poultry meat in Germany but is a world premier as far as we know,” announced Albert Focke, communications manager with Stolle, which has its own feed mills, parent flock producers and contracted poultry farmers with an output of around 450,000 chickens and 10,000 turkeys daily.

Market share in Germany for Stolle chicken products, many of them portioned, cooked and deep frozen under retail outlets’ own labels for the convenience sector, is put by the company at 20 percent for the first quarter of 2009.

Some 100,000 chicken are now labeled as produced without gene technology. This number is set to rise this year as other Stolle production plants are fully certified under new German legislation that now allows such claims, following inspection by independent bodies.

Naturally, the GMO-free output from the family firm’s three poultry processing plants plus delicatessen production facility, with headquarters in Gudensberg, northern Germany, depends on the guarantee of non-GMO feed from the company-owned feed mill.

Like the poultry plants, this is not only HACCP certified but also produces according to the International Food Standard (IFS) and is subject to control under the German quality system Vitacert. The feed mill, producing under the name “BEST 3 Geflügel[er]nährung GmbH”, in the village of Twistringen, is dedicated to producing for contracted Stolle poultry growers, with ownership shared by Stolle and the farmer producer groups involved.

The mill also runs a full traceability program, which means that its feed batches can be traced back to individual components. The system is also applied to the poultry meat portions produced by Stolle, which means that these can be traced back to the respective parent flocks involved.

Longterm GMO-free suppliers

Stolle makes all [of] it[s] own feed and, for the last 12 years, has refused to incorporate any ingredients that contain, or could contain, GMO material.

Mr Flocke explains: “The company feed has been continuously tested independently to make absolutely sure of this standard. Now, the European Community GM Food and Feed Regulation 1829/2003, finally passed into German law last year, means we can actually label  our products as GMO-free, if production has been certified under the regulations.

“This naturally entails independent testing of feed components from the country of production, right through the shipping, storage and milling process. We employ a recognized and fully independent institute ‘Intertek’ with its global network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and over 23,000 employees in more than 100 countries to supervise and conduct this careful checking procedure.”


Stolle’s Visbek headquarters and main processing plant, where whole chickens and cooked and frozen chicken pieces are prepared for the German market.

Brazil soya only

The company notes that it has, briefly, considered using feed protein sources other than soya bean as guaranteed non-GMO material in poultry feed, but was unable to find anything that equally met all-round poultry feed amino acid needs. Consequently, it was decided to continue with soya beans, but to source them only from regions where GMO freedom could be guaranteed.

Brazil has been the Stolle’s soya bean supplier for many years now, and the spot checks start on the country’s farms and end in the laboratories back in Germany. However, the feed quality controls cover much more than soya bean meal.

“We source our main energy components in the feed – corn and wheat – from German farms only,” says Mr Focke. “This makes things a little easier for us because, so far, there’s no permission in place that would allow the growing of GM maize in Germany.”

Up to the end of May 2009, 5 percent of Stolle contract broiler growers were still not using feed that is certified GMO-free. However, the company has strictly separated production systems and feed channels so that no cross-contamination can occur. Sooner rather than later, all of Stolle’s chicken production will come under the non gene-technology label.

Broad approach

Stolle’s turkey production will also become subject to the same strict feed requirements and certification.

“It’s very much a step-by-step process,” emphasizes Mr Focke.

This careful approach is not only applied to feed. Mr Flocke continues: “Some of our convenience products are breaded joints or steaks, and this, of course, means that these components have to be reliably checked for the presence of GMO and, like the birds and the feed, have full traceability.”

Ninety percent of the products from the Gebrüder Stolle plant are sold in the German market but there is a growing export demand for the company’s processed chicken and turkey, with main customers Russia, the Middle East and the Far East.

Updated: Dec 16, 2009

This article appeared in Poultry International, December 2009.

© Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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