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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

What changes are coming to German supermarkets in 2023?

Whether introducing their own deposit systems, enabling all types of payments or introducing labels about animal welfare, we look at the big changes coming to supermarkets around Germany in 2023.

A customer in a supermarket hands over a €5 note.
A customer in a supermarket hands over a €5 note.Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

New animal welfare label

Pork is a ubiquitous product in German supermarkets, with 50 million pigs slaughtered in Germany in 2021 alone. Starting next year, it will be possible to see how well they were treated with the new Tierhaltungskennzeichen (animal husbandry label), which will indicate the animals’ living conditions.

The label, intended to create more transparency for consumers and provide information about the origin of their meat, was initiated by Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir of the Greens. The categories include Bio (organic), Auslauf/Frei­land (free range), Frisch­luft­stall (fresh air barn), Stall+Platz (barn+place) or only Stall (barn).

The label will initially just apply to pigs but Özdemir is pushing for it to be expanded to other livestock as well.    

Aldi Nord gets fresh

There are likely to be big changes for customers at discounter Aldi Nord in 2023 through its self-described Store Layout 2.0 DE. The discount chain is planning a comprehensive store makeover by the end of next year. As part of its new store structure, Aldi will also be placing fresh produce in a spacious section at the front of the store. The aim is to become the “number one fresh produce discounter,” according to a spokesperson.

The ‘Nord’ branch of the discount supermarket is situated in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and the northern parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

READ ALSO: Tip of the week: Your guide to German supermarkets

A woman buys groceries in a German supermarket. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hauke-Christian Dittrich

Edeka launches its own deposit system

The full-range retailer is set to launch its own Pfand system. Customers can use the new “Regood” containers at hot counters, salad bars and in-house restaurants. They can be returned to any Edeka store for the deposit price.

The system gives the supermarket a sustainable leg up on its competitors. In 2022, Lidl recorded lower demand for non-food items, and will be throwing out many such products in the coming year, German broadcaster reporter RTL recently reported.

At all supermarkets, it’s already possible to return bottles and many types of glass for a refund, as well as recycle old electronics.

READ ALSO: The complete German supermarket survival guide (Video)

Paperless advertising

Popular chain Rewe is doing away with paper handouts as advertising brochures from July 1st, 2023. However, this change is not going down well with all customers. Many took to Facebook to complain that older customers in particular do not always have access to digital brochures.

Easier payments at Kaufland

Starting in summer 2023, customers at megachain Kaufland will be able to buy their goods with just about every type of payment, including Girocard, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Maestro, Vpay, GooglePay, ApplePay and of course cash.

READ ALSO: Is card payment finally gaining ground in Germany?

New mandatory reusable packaging

Another overarching change is the mandatory re-usability for delivery services, catering services and restaurants. From January 1st, 2023, delivery and catering services, as well as restaurants and cafes (including those situated in supermarkets), will be required to offer reusable containers in addition to single-use packaging for takeaway food and drink.

Small businesses with a maximum of five employees and a sales area of up to 80 square meters are exempt from this rule. However, they should point out to their customers that the food they have ordered can also be filled using their own containers.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in March 2024

From relaxed rules on visas for non-EU skilled workers to higher health insurance contributions, here are some of the major changes when February turns to March on Friday.

Everything that changes in Germany in March 2024

More money for public sector employees

Employees in the public sector at both the federal and local level will receive more money starting on Friday. 

Monthly incomes will increase by a basic amount of €200, plus 5.5 percent. The increase will amount to a total of at least €340, according to Germany’s Interior Ministry.

Pensioners pay higher health insurance contributions

Health insurance contributions for employees were already increased at the start of the year. Now, two months later, the changes are also affecting pensioners. The additional contributions vary depending on the health insurance fund. For those affected, the pension amount transferred will be then be correspondingly lower.

READ ALSO: German health insurance contributions ‘to rise in 2024’

Less restrictions for skilled workers

From March 1st, it will be easier for companies to hire employees from non-EU countries on a temporary basis, for example during seasonal peaks. 

It will also be simpler for skilled workers to come to Germany.

The prerequisite for a visa will be a state-recognised professional qualification after at least two years of training and three years of professional experience. Formal recognition of the professional qualification, for example with a degree, will no longer be required. 

A man works in a factory in Dresden.

A man works in a factory in Dresden. Germany is desperate for skilled workers and loosened restrictions in March could make it easier for the country to find them. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

Access to the German labour market will also become easier for IT workers and specialists: they can now start a job after just two years of professional experience.

There are also changes to the employment of students from third countries. For them, among other things, the upper limit for working hours has been raised from 120 to 140 working days. Regulated professions, for example in the healthcare sector, are exempt.

READ ALSO:

New collective pay agreement in medical practices

The new collective agreement for medical assistants (MFA) comes into force on March 1st. The salaries of employees in GP and specialist practices, for example, will increase by 2.5 to 22.3 percent, depending on the job group and year of employment. The average increase amounts to 7.4 percent.

Blue insurance licence plates

Anyone who rides scooters or mopeds needs new number plates: A new insurance year starts on March 1st, after which date only a special blue licence plate will be valid. 

Stricter energy consumption rules for devices

From March 1st, stricter efficiency requirements will apply to refrigerators, washing machines and dryers in private households, meaning they they’ll need to consume less energy. 

In future, fridges will be required to display their annual electricity consumption, while washing machines and dryers will have to show their electricity consumption for 100 cycles.

Even if the energy label itself – and the assessment via the efficiency classes – won’t change for the time being, Germany’s consumer advice centre urge buying household appliances with the best energy efficiency. This decision can pay off in the long term, as any higher purchase costs can be offset by lower electricity costs during operation.

A washing machine

The energy requirements for washing machines are set to get much stricter. Photo: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

More transparent lobby register rules

Starting on March 1st, new regulations will apply to lobbyists at the federal level. For example, lobby organisations must state which specific legislative or regulatory proposals they’re involved in. They must also upload the key points of their demands to Germany’s official lobby register. 

The previous option of refusing to provide information on funding will be removed. Lobbyists will also have to declare if they do not represent the interests of their actual client, but those of a third party.

If elected officials and office holders become lobbyists, they must disclose current and previous offices and mandates.

Online register for organ donations

The long-planned internet register for organ donations in Germany is being introduced in stages. As a first step, it will be possible starting on March 18th to submit a voluntary declaration of organ and tissue donation using an ID document with an eID function at www.organspende-register.de.

In a second step, according to the Ministry of Health, hospitals will be able to search for and retrieve the declarations by July 1st.

Culture Pass made easier to use

Germany’s ‘Culture Pass’ for young people is entering a new round. From March, young people who turn 18 this year can use a special app to identify themselves and activate the Culture Pass funds they’re entitled to receive on their birthday.

For their special day, they will then receive €100 to spend however they want on books, cinema, concerts, opera, records, museums and festivals, and several other options both for products and events.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s youth culture pass

Staying lighter, later

In Germany, the clocks will be turned again on Sunday, March 31st. At 2 am, the hands will be set forward by one hour to 3 am. This means that the last Sunday in March will be one hour shorter, but in return it will be light for noticeably longer in the evening from this time onward.

Sommerzeit (summer time) ends again on the last Sunday in October, this time on October 27th.

READ ALSO: When will Germany ditch the seasonal clock changes

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