Ahold Delhaize USA has set new health and sustainability goals focused on establishing a more sustainable food supply chain, including more better-for-you foods, greater product transparency, waste reduction and action on climate change.
The parent of East Coast supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Food Lion and Hannaford, Ahold Delhaize USA said Thursday that the new objectives reflect consumer demand for healthier foods and more information about the content and sourcing of what they eat. According to company research, 43% of consumers now consider sustainability as “extremely important,” up from 28% before the coronavirus pandemic.
“The past year has truly been an unprecedented time for food retailers. But what has remained unchanged is our commitment to delivering for consumers whenever, wherever, however they want to shop,” Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt said in a statement. “Food, and how consumers shop for it, has far-reaching impact. As food retailers, we recognize that our role in the food supply chain comes with great responsibility.”
To provide shoppers with healthier food choices, Ahold Delhaize USA and its retail brands aim to make better-for-you products account for 54% of private-label food sales by 2025. In line with that goal is the company’s alliance with the Partnership for a Healthier America. Through the collaboration, announced in October, the retailer plans to publicly disclose the percentage of food sales from healthier products.
Specifically, Ahold Delhaize USA will report the percentage of total-store food sales generated from private- and national-brand products earning star ratings in its Guiding Stars program, designed to help customers understand how much nutrition comes from a food product. The Quincy, Mass.-based company said its alliance with Partnership for a Healthier America represents the largest pledge to boost healthier food sales and transparency by a U.S. grocery retailer.
In furthering transparency, by 2025, Ahold Delhaize USA aims to enhance the information provided about product sourcing, starting with fresh produce and meat. The company said it will expand efforts in sustainably sourced seafood, coffee and tea to be 100% sustainably certified in cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper products and packaging, as well as achieve advances in animal welfare and human rights.
To help consumers understand where their food comes from and its ingredients, Ahold Delhaize USA plans to develop a program allowing customers to shop based on personal preferences, such as using less plastic, ensuring humane treatment of animals and finding products free of chemicals of concern and much more. The retailer said it also seeks to be an industry leader in traceability.
One key initiative to this end is a new partnership with HowGood, which bills itself as the world’s largest product-sustainability database, to provide shoppers with a user-friendly environmental and social impact rating system. On a scale of one to three, products receive leaf icons to denote their level of sustainability based on such criteria as farming practices, treatment of animals, labor conditions and chemical use. The Giant Company, Giant Food and Stop & Shop began to offer the HowGood rating system to online customers this week.
To promote transparency in GMO labeling, Ahold Delhaize USA said it will have clear, on-pack Bioengineered Food disclosure on all private-brand products “well ahead” of the Federal Bioengineered labeling deadline of Jan. 1, 2022. The company noted that it also maintains strong animal welfare guidelines, including requirements for suppliers and issue statements on topics such as cage-free eggs, animal testing and growth hormones.
Also by 2025, Ahold Delhaize USA aims to cut down on food waste by 32%, with that percentage rising to 50% by 2030. The company said it also will move forward toward its “zero waste” goal by reaching 90% waste diversion. Ahold Delhaize USA, too, will seek to reduce overall use of problematic single-use plastics by 2025, including making private-label products 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable and increasing recycled content by 25% by 2025.
As a subsidiary of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, Ahold Delhaize USA and its local brands are signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models. Ahold Delhaize USA brands also participate in the Beyond the Bag initiative, a coalition formed to develop and test options to the single-use plastic shopping bag.
And through innovative supply-chain technologies, the retailer said it has enhanced forecasting capabilities to better predict demand and supply at stores and e-commerce distribution points, in turn reducing waste. The company’s supermarket brands, too, are all Feeding America food bank affiliates, collectively providing 2 billion meals via food rescue programs and donations.
Ahold Delhaize USA said its efforts to address global warming include procuring and developing renewable energy, sharpening its facilities’ energy efficiency, migrating toward more climate-friendly refrigerants, reducing refrigerant leaks, and improving transportation and logistics efficiency. The company added that it also is working with suppliers to cut back on emissions “from farm to fork.”
Last year, Ahold Delhaize released science-based targets and time-bound goals for 2030, including a commitment to halve carbon emissions from its operations by 2030, and work with suppliers to reduce emissions from the supply chain by 15%. And in 2019, the company and its local brands signed up for the Science Based Targets initiative to help set climate goals for cuting carbon emissions.
“Our expansive network means we can make a real and positive impact on local communities and our planet,” Holt added. “That’s why we’ve committed to these goals, to hold ourselves accountable to the customers we serve and our world.”
Overall, Ahold Delhaize USA operates about 2,000 stores in 20 states. Its subsidiaries also include Retail Business Services (RBS), which supports the company’s grocery brands, and Peapod Digital Labs, which provides e-commerce and digital solutions.