Ahold Delhaize raises sustainability bar

Mike Troy
Editorial Director
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Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller addressing delegates last fall at the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Vancouver.

Ahold Delhaize has set new sustainability targets focused on accelerating efforts in areas where it can create the most value, including its store brand portfolio.

New targets around plastic wasted reduction, energy conservation and human rights were revealed by Ahold Delhaize as the company resets targets it expects to hit this year. Entering the last year of fulfilling its 2020 sustainability targets, Ahold Delhaize said it has created a new set of ambitions to inspire customers to make healthier and more informed choices, to increase product transparency, and to eliminate waste.

“Food-related diseases and the impact of climate change are affecting billions of people, including those in our communities and our business. That is why we need to accelerate in the areas where we can create the most value,” said president and CEO Frans Muller. “As an international food retailer, we are in a great position to help tackle these global issues together, with our customers and with our partners in the industry and across the supply chain, to create a healthier and more resilient food system. I am convinced that this will make our business stronger and more robust for the future.”

The company’s new ambitions focus on:

 Healthier choices. After baselining all own-brand products against science-based nutritional navigation systems, the local brands of Ahold Delhaize aim to further increase sales of healthy own-brand products to more than half of total own-brand food sales, with a target of 51% by 2022. To achieve this, the brands will continue their commitment to reformulate products to use less sugar, salt and fats to make it easier for customers to meet their own, personal health needs. By 2025, all Ahold Delhaize brands will provide science-based nutritional navigation systems for customers, such as Nutri-Score and Guiding Stars, in stores and online.

• Product transparency. Ahold Delhaize and its local brands can help customers make choices that fit their needs, their tastes, and their values. To facilitate these choices, the company will provide even more information about where own-brand products are sourced, which production methods are used and under which conditions they are produced. Building on the company’s nearly 100% visibility and sustainability in its own-brand seafood supply chains, it will move quickly to apply lessons learned to its fresh fruit, vegetable, and meat supply chains.

• Eliminating waste: This broad initiative ecompasses efforts in two key areas, food waste and plastic waste. The brands of Ahold Delhaize will continue reducing food waste from operations, cutting it in half by 2030, in line with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal. This work requires balancing the reduction of food waste with goals to increase sales of fresh and healthy products. To achieve this target, the brands will use more effective replenishment systems, leverage innovative methods, such as dynamic pricing based on sell-by date, and further expand partnerships to repurpose unsold but safe food to relieve food insecurity. Additionally, as a founding member of the 10x20x30 food waste initiative, Ahold Delhaize is also partnering with 20 key suppliers to reduce food waste throughout our supply chains.

As for plastic waste, the company said its brands are working toward zero plastic waste from own-brand packaging by 2025, through packaging reduction and moving to fully recyclable, reusable, or compostable plastics. Furthermore, 25% of own-brand plastic packaging will be from recycled materials by 2025.

Ahold Delhaize said it is committed to setting long-term, science-based targets as of February 2021 to reduce its impact on climate change. On human rights, the company is already conducting due diligence, following the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to ensure its brands, businesses, and supply chains are protecting the rights of customers, associates and community members.