Tönnies FACTcheck

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Tönnies FACTcheck

Important facts, key messages and statements about the company are checked, documented or corrected here.

Tamer Bakiner – The Truth Hunter Season 1, Episode 3: The Tönnies System

“Here we have some tangible violations of criminally sanctioned regulations, e.g. from the field of ​​infection protection …” – Sven Jürgens, specialist lawyer for labor law

Tönnies is not aware of any legal violation that would have been the cause of this massive outbreak at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site. The person quoted, a specialist lawyer for labor law, does not name any specific violation either. It is completely incomprehensible how this statement comes about. Independent scientific studies made also the conclusion that previously unknown phenomena in connection with the air recirculation cooling system in an area of production has significant influenced the outbreak.

Tamer Bakiner – The Truth Hunter Season 1, Episode 3: The Tönnies System

„The contract workers may not come to work with their cell phones. That is forbidden. He (Clemens Tönnies) does not want pictures or videos to be made public. (…) There are cameras on every corner.” – Tamer Bakiner, economy investigator

The employees are informed about the camera systems in the company – in production as well as in hygienic areas and cloakrooms. All cameras are clearly visible. They serve the security of employees and are in line with the applicable data protection regulations.
There are lockers in the cloakroom, in which the employees store personal belongings and valuables. For this reason, visible cameras are also installed there. For hygiene reasons, the wearing of protective clothing over normal street clothing is monitored. Shower or changing rooms are free of cameras.

The prohibition of photo and video recordings in production areas is common practice in German companies. It protects personal rights and trade secrets.

“After work contracts are prohibited: Tönnies quickly established 20 new subsidiaries”
(July 31, 2020)

The Tönnies Group had announced some time ago that they would employ all employees in the core areas of production directly by the beginning of 2021. That fact remains unrestricted. The company is already in the middle of this process. The first 1,000 former contract workers are to be hired by mid-September.

Legal foundations are required for permanent positions. The possible employment in 100% subsidiaries is completely normal in German and international groups. However, it is currently still unclear which organizational forms the law planned by the Federal Ministry ultimately provides for. Tönnies therefore founded these companies as a precaution. With Subsidiaries, a direct hiring at different locations and for different companies in the group could be implemented quickly.

“Tönnies produces cheap meat”

Tönnies is Germany’s market leader for organic pork. Around 22% of all animals we process come from a form of husbandry above the legal standard, and around 1.5% from organic husbandry. We are pioneers of the animal welfare initiative (Initiative Tierwohl) and fully support Julia Klöckner’s Borchert Commission proposals. Our goal is to get all of the meat in the entire basic range from the second level of husbandry  (Haltungsform 2) or above.

“Mammoth companies with over 7,000 employees will no longer exist in the future”

The statements of District Administrator Sven-Georg Adenauer cannot be legally justified. The operating license is issued by the authorities on the basis of emissions protection, occupational safety and health protection. The pure number of employees is not a variable that requires approval.

“The canteen video circulating on the net dates from April 8, 2020, the distance regulations were not kept here”

The SWR’s claim is wrong. The video circulating on the net has been known to us in the company since March 28, 2020. At this point, the employees in the canteen were clustered, so that only people who also work in a department took a break together. The measures were tightened regularly and examined by the occupational health and safety control. There were no multiple positive cases in this phase of the pandemic. Since then, numerous other measures have been taken, for example, the number of places has been significantly reduced and the obligation to wear face masks has been introduced on the way to the canteen and the food service.

“Tönnies produced more during the pandemic”

No, the amount of slaughters at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site was between 20,000 and 25,000 animals per day in the months of March to June. This is a standard amount below the capacity limit of 30,000 animals per day.

“A regulation has asked Tönnies to produce more”

At the beginning of the lockdown in Germany, an ordinance from the Ministry of Labor of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia made regulations for more production and longer working hours. This also asked Tönnies to ensure the food supply. The increased panic buying should not lead to food shortages.

“Health and safety controls during the pandemic have identified shortcomings”

On May 15, 2020, the district government of Detmold checked the operation in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in a six-hour unannounced inspection. In this way, it was possible to check compliance with the mandatory SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety standards of the BMAS not only to meet the minimum requirement of the individual requirement. Rather, it was possible to be convinced locally of the measures, some of which went far beyond the usual industry standards. This was rewarded in writing by the authority. This check confirmed that the Tönnies Corona hygiene concept “ in absolute accordance with the occupational safety standards of the BMAS ..”. The identified complaints in the operational implementation were remedied at short notice. On May 20, 2020, a further inspection of the professional association for food and hospitality took place. Finally, on May 29, another review of occupational health and safety by the district government. As a result, the open points could be completely clarified. This is also confirmed by the results of the first official series test during this period, in which only seven of the 6,400 tests tested positive.

“Sub-sub-sub work contracts obscure responsibilities and liability”

There are no systematic sub-sub constructs at the Tönnies group.

Of the approximately 7,000 employees at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück location, around 100 people are currently employed by a sub-service provider due to a lack of staff. This is due to the availability of the employees and only for a limited period.

“Tönnies only gave the addresses of the employees to the authorities under great pressure”

The claim is wrong. Tönnies immediately submitted all names and addresses of the permanent employees. For data protection reasons, the company does not have any information about the home addresses of the contract workers. These are available to the subcontractors to whom these contract workers are employed. Tönnies only has the first name, last name, gender and date of birth of the contract workers. The company promptly asked its subcontractors to provide all addresses after the incoming request for the address list. The addresses have been available to the authorities since the early morning of June 20th.

“After the company closed on June 20, 2020, trucks drove off the company premises the following day”

On Sunday, June 21, 2020, 14 tours were started that had already left the company premises. At this point it was not clear whether the drivers were in quarantine or working quarantine if the test result was negative. There were different statements about this. After it was clarified that there was a quarantine, the tours were stopped and the employees immediately went to quarantine.

“The contract workers live under questionable living conditions”

The district government of Detmold checked all of the employees’ accomodations. No serious defects were found here.

Sven Georg Adenauer (July 6, 2020):
„We looked at the apartments when it started. And there were the apartments – there were 350 apartments that were looked at in the first swing by the Office for Occupational Safety and Health in Detmold – they were all flawless. And then I said to the people, look at this… We carried that outward  and communicated it, but nobody wants to hear it. Some of the media don’t want to hear that.“

Theo Mettenborg (June 23, 2020)
In an interview with Markus Lanz, the Mayor of the city of Rheda-Wiedenbrück said that the city has had strict living space controls for many years. Many small units were created across the city. “We now have 450 residential units and houses. We know the living and working situation of the workers and also the work situation. We have the living space through the city in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in view and have achieved a clear improvement in recent years.”

Volker Brüggenjürgen, Managing Director of the Caritas Association in the Gütersloh district about the living space of three Tönnies contract workers: “The three men live in a dilapidated, 15 square meter room, for which they have to pay 960 euros in rent.”

(published July 3, 2020)

Volker Brüggenjürgen replies to the company’s written request as to whether specific information can be given here to investigate the case:

“I do not know where you got the statement that it should have been some of “your” service providers. In the conversation with the Glocke (other media representatives were not present), we made it very clear that it was about contract workers in the logistics in the furniture industry, and because of the quarantine requirements we could not have entered Tönnies employees’ homes at all.”

“The district of Gütersloh ordered the Tönnies company to close the slaughterhouse immediately.” (June 17, 2020)

The district of Gütersloh has ordered the entire Tönnies plant “In der Mark 2” in Rheda-Wiedenbrück to be closed. A written and justifiable order is not yet available (as of July 7, 2:31 p.m.).

Karl-Josef Laumann: „It cannot be that these companies are free of works councils and unions!“ (June 22, 2020)

Not correct. The Tönnies Group currently has 162 works councils in various companies.

Export pork

The export quota for pork is 56.1% (2019). The exported products are primarily parts of the pig that are not consumed as food in Germany, such as offal, ears, snouts, feet, etc.

Export beef

The export quota for beef is 23.3% (2019).


1,120,000 tons of pork are imported into Germany every year.

Slaughtering numbers

In 2019, the Tönnies group slaughtered around 20.6 million pigs and 440,000 cattle (including cutting) at all locations.

Slaughtering numbers Rheda

At the Rheda site, Tönnies is approved for up to 30,000 pigs a day. Depending on the season, the number is between 20,000 and 25,000.

Locations globally

The Tönnies group has 29 production sites worldwide, 19 of which are in Germany.

Employees globally


Employees Germany



203 trainees in 14 different professions


Employees from 87 nations work in the Tönnies group.

External service providers

A total of 25 service providers for the entire group.

Employment contracts

All employees at Tönnies in Germany have a German employment contract with German social security.

Takeover of external employees

In the past 12 months, Tönnies has taken over 400 employees in direct employment.

Average wage

Tönnies has four wage groups in production between EUR 9.50 and EUR 18.00. The average wage is EUR 11.35.

Minimum wage

The minimum wage in Germany is EUR 9.35. In Romania EUR 2.81, in Poland EUR 3.50, in Bulgaria EUR 1.87.

Digital time recording

The working hours of all employees are recorded and documented in writing. In addition, comprehensive digital time recording is currently being introduced at all German locations. The allegation that the company is resisting digital time recording is wrong. However, there is currently no legal basis that requires this digital recording to be mandatory. Neither for the meat industry, nor for other branches of industry.

Number of works councils


Employees gender distribution

64% male, 36% female

Audits per Jahr

101 audits were carried out in 2019 at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück location.

Suppliers and partners at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site

In addition to the agricultural partners, 2,200 suppliers at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site implemented a volume of EUR 209.5 million for raw materials, auxiliary and operating materials as well as technology.


Our production employees at the site in Rheda-Wiedenbrück live in 2,034 different apartments. 30% of these are shared accommodation (350 properties with 625 residential units). Another 70% are privately rented (1,409 apartments or houses).

Farmers throughout Germany

The group works with 12,000 farmers throughout Germany.


On average, a Tönnies partner company has 1,250 fattening places.

Regional agriculture

About 80% of the pigs for the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site come from a radius of 100 km.

Climate protection

3.79% of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany originate from animal husbandry in order to produce meat, milk, butter, eggs and cheese for all of us.


Tönnies offers meat from all four types of husbandry. 78% of the animals come from conventional husbandry (Konventionelle Haltung), 20% from stable housing (Stallhaltung Plus), 0.5% from outdoor climate stables (Außenklimaställe) and 1.5% from organic husbandry (Biohaltung).

Anaesthesia rate of the animals

A triple security check ensures that all animals are 100% anesthetized before slaughter.


100% of German sites are certified according to an energy management system.


33% of the electricity required in Rheda-Wiedenbrück is produced by four CHP plants.