Ahold Delhaize this week announced a new set of ambitions behind its sustainability growth plan, including plans to reformulate own-brand foods to improve health; increasing product transparency in meat, fresh-fruit and produce; and making further reductions in food and plastic waste.
The new long-term targets were announced as the Dutch retail giant enters the final year of its previous 2020 sustainability program, announced in 2017 and combining elements of the Ahold and Delhaize plans as they merged.
“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,” Ahold Delhaize President and CEO Frans Muller said in a statement. “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 ambition focuses on the following areas:
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. Its 2020 target called for increasing from 42% to 45% of its own-brand sales to be of healthier products.
To achieve this, the brands will continue their commitment to reformulate products, including reducing less sugar, salt and fats, and to make it easier for customers to meet 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 said it was committing to provide even more information about where its own-brand products are sourced, which production methods are used and under which conditions they are produced. The company said the effort would build on its “nearly 100% visibility and sustainability” in its own-brand seafood supply chains, and it would move quickly to apply lessons learned to its fresh fruit, vegetable, and meat supply chains.
Reducing food waste: Ahold Delhaize said its brands would continue reducing food waste from operations, cutting it in half by 2030, in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. This work requires balancing the reduction of food waste with Ahold Delhaize's goal to increase sales of fresh and healthy products.
To achieve this target, 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 its supply chains.
Ahold Delhaize’s 2020 ambition had called for reducing food waste by 20% from its 2016 baseline.
Reducing plastic waste: Ahold Delhaize 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.
The company said it has also 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 United Nations' Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure brands, businesses and supply chains are protecting the rights of customers, associates and community members. Brands are also increasing standards for the sustainability of products they sell, while maintaining best-in-class standards for food safety and quality. The company said it would also continue a focus on improving workplace safety.