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Our Approach

The Big Picture

The global food supply faces many challenges and uncertainties. Critical issues for the future include providing nutritious food for the world’s growing population, moving beyond agricultural practices that are harming the environment and public health and mitigating and adapting to climate change. As an international food retailer, we are committed to leading the search for sustainable solutions to these challenges. We are driving change by collaborating with NGOs and others concerned about the future of food systems. We are partnering with our private brand suppliers to make our own supply chain more sustainable. And we are engaging our associates and customers with education and initiatives that help them reduce food waste, recycle more and make other healthy, sustainable choices. These efforts help us meet our Sustainability Ambition, which is to delight our customers and energize our associates by helping them live happier and eat healthier in thriving local communities. We are convinced that this ambition will support our business Purpose: To operate our customers’ preferred local supermarkets and work together to support that ambition.

At Delhaize Group, we believe a sustainable, healthy food system is attainable. We believe we can help transform global agriculture into a restorative, “circular economy”—one that is regenerative by design, rather than one that depletes its resources. We are committed to helping make that future a reality.

Our Value Chain

Our top priority for 2020 is to improve the sustainability and health of our private brand products at all points along our value chain. The circular shape of this diagram reflects our aim to create a more sustainable value chain with a lifecycle approach—one that builds into our products and packaging ways for them to be reused or recycled at their end of their life, rather than disposed of.

Raw materials

Working with our private brand suppliers, we can influence agricultural practices at the beginning of our product value chain. Our 2020 goals related to fair working conditions and sustainable commodities (palm oil, wood fibers, and seafood) focus on improving resource efficiency and working conditions at the raw materials stage of our private brand value chain.

Processing & Packaging

We collaborate with our suppliers to improve the nutritional profile of our products and to support conservation of natural resources during their production. We also work with our suppliers to reduce product packaging and improve its reusability/recyclability.

Distribution & Transport

We work with our suppliers to increase the efficiency of the process that brings products to our warehouses and stores. We also manage the environmental impact and working conditions in our warehouses and trucking operations by focusing on fuel efficiency and health and safety programs.


Our ambition is to make it easy for our customers to make healthy and sustainable choices. To that end, we are improving access to information about our products’ sustainability, nutrition and affordability by making it available to customers in multiple places -- on packaging, on shelves, online and via QR codes, and through conversations with our in-store associates.


We guide our customers toward more healthy and sustainable eating habits through product labeling, in-store and on-line communications, and classes that educate them about safe food handling, cooking healthy meals, appropriate portion sizes and ways to reduce food waste.

Reuse & Recycling

Our ambition is for our products and packaging to generate no waste. To achieve this we are working to make our packaging and non-food products reusable or recyclable. We also engage customers by including recycling information on packaging and providing opportunities for them to recycle materials in our stores.

Our Material Issues

The graphic above shows our material sustainability issues (described further in the table below) and the level of impacts they have across our full value chain. We identified these issues through an assessment of the topics that are most important to our stakeholders and where Delhaize Group has the biggest impacts, alongside analysis of major sustainability trends in our industry. We also conducted a materiality assessment for each of our operating companies and then compared those individual results against the Group-wide assessment to validate the importance of specific topics.

We have found some variation in how our operating companies and the local cultures in which they operate perceive and prioritize certain issues. Based on these differences, we have refined how we implement our 2020 strategy in each region in order to meet our global objectives while prioritizing projects that best fit our local markets. We will continue to analyze and modify our material issues as needed in the years to come.

Definition Reporting Coverage
Food Safety How we ensure the safety of the food we sell throughout the value chain Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 target for food safety compliance of private brand suppliers
Availability of Healthy Food How we increase the share of healthy food available in our stores Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 target for increasing private brand nutritional quality; and Healthy Lifestyles sections
Food Waste How we decrease the amount of food thrown away along the value chain Zero Waste sections, 2020 targets for increasing food donations and recycling rate, plus local projects to engage customers in reducing food waste
Human & Labor Rights How we protect human and labor rights across our product supply chain and in our operations Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 target for fair working conditions in our private brand supply chain; Associate Diversity and Development sections, 2020 targets for associate diversity and inclusion and associate development; and coverage in "Our Approach" of Delhaize Group's internal Guide for Ethical Business Conduct
CO2 emissions, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy How we reduce our impact on global climate change, from our operations and our supply chain, and how we work with stakeholders to adapt agricultural systems to climate change Operations: Zero Waste sections, 2020 targets for reducing CO2-equivalent emissions and reducing impacts from refrigerants

Supply Chain: Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 targets for deforestation-free palm oil and wood fibers, local projects to increase sustainable agriculture practices in our supply chains
Employee Development & Engagement How we invest in our associates via training and career development and increase their level of engagement in the company Associate Diversity & Development sections, 2020 target for annual performance dialogues; Healthy Lifestyles section, 2020 target for associate wellbeing
Packaging Waste How we reduce waste from our operations through waste prevention, re-use and recycling Zero Waste sections, 2020 target for increasing recycling rate, local targets to engage customers in packaging recycling; Sustainable Private Brand sections, local targets to reduce packaging waste and increase packaging recycling
Product Information & Labeling How we provide customers with transparent information about our products’ ingredients, production process, nutritional value and preparation / consumption advice Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 target for nutritional labeling
Sustainable Agriculture How the production of the food we sell impacts water quality and availability, soil quality and preservation, land use, chemical use and ecosystems Sustainable Private Brand sections, 2020 targets for sustainable palm oil, wood fibers and seafood; plus local projects to increase sustainable agriculture practices in our supply chains
Diversity How we promote a diverse and inclusive environment for our associates and in our stores Associate Diversity & Development sections, 2020 target for associate diversity; plus local projects to promote diversity and inclusion in our operations

Our 2020 Sustainability Strategy

Back in 2010, we set a bold vision to be the sustainability leaders in all our markets by 2020. We committed our company to building sustainability into our private brand products, reducing waste, promoting healthier living and employing a diverse group of associates that reflect our values and communities. We call this destination “Supergood.”

Supergood is about taking our own sustainability efforts to a new level and helping create more sustainable food systems. Supergood also supports the Purpose, Promise, Principles and Values that drive our business strategy, because it balances our company's objectives with the needs of our customers, our associates, our communities and all our stakeholders.

To achieve Supergood, we prioritized 4 focus areas that reflect our company’s material issues.

Within these focus areas, we have identified 14 Group-wide goals, as well as individual goals for each operating company. Under this framework, our operating companies establish their own path to meet those goals, based on local market conditions. We also know that customer needs, industry conditions and market trends change over time, which is why we adjust goals as needed to ensure we stay on track to achieve Supergood.

To ensure our goals remain relevant and measurable, we create steering committees made up of experts from each of our operating companies. In 2015, steering committees covered 4 topics: associate diversity, associate wellbeing, product safety and quality assurance, and nutritional quality of private brands. The committees review goals, key performance indicators and other elements of our strategy, and then recommend ways to strengthen our commitments going forward.

This process for reviewing and adapting goals in order to maintain our strategic focus means customers can shop at our stores knowing that healthy, affordable and sustainable choices are plentiful; that our private brands blend quality, affordability and sustainability; and that we are innovating to have a more positive impact on our communities and the planet.

For details on our performance against these goals, please read the Delhaize Group Performance section of the 2015 report. Highlights from each operating company's efforts are available in our specific Local Performance reports and Case Studies.

Sustainability Governance & Management

Everyone at Delhaize Group has a role in our sustainability efforts, from the Board of Directors and Executive Committee to the associates in our stores. The diagram below describes some of the key roles and responsibilities of each group.

To strengthen accountability in meeting our sustainability goals, beginning in 2015, all Officers and Directors of the company (and relevant associates below those levels) had a portion of their annual bonuses tied to performance against annual sustainability targets. In 2015, we also fully implemented a performance management monitoring system that allowed us to track progress against sustainability goals at the Group and operating company level. We held quarterly review meetings with leaders of each operating company to assess progress toward annual targets.

The combination of increased accountability and more rigorous data tracking strengthened commitment to our strategy and raised awareness of sustainability goals. As a result, we met or exceeded 90% of our annual sustainability targets.

Our Stakeholders

We know we can’t achieve Supergood alone. That’s why we work closely with our stakeholders, who challenge us to stay focused on what is most important and help strengthen our approach to building sustainability into our business. We interact throughout the year with key stakeholders—our customers, associates and suppliers – to understand their perspectives and to share our activities.. In addition, we engage directly with non-governmental organizations, industry networks and local, regional and national governments to collaborate, share opinions, and ensure we are headed in the right direction.

For example, in November, Delhaize America’s sustainability team held a half-day sustainable fisheries workshop with associates, environmental NGOs, suppliers and consultants. To illustrate the challenge of managing common resources in a competitive marketplace, participants formed mock fishing companies and used computer simulations to engage in 11 years’ worth of fishing. Companies received government warnings about overfishing and attempted to collaborate to preserve the resource. In the end, their efforts were not sufficient and the fisheries collapsed—highlighting the complexity of the challenge and the importance of thinking holistically about sustainable sourcing.

We also collaborate with our stakeholders in less formal ways, every day, as outlined in the table below.

Compliance & Ethics

Acting with integrity and promoting an ethical culture is the responsibility of each and every associate. We refer to this responsibility as “the right way, every day.” Our Compliance and Ethics program is mainly based on Delhaize Group’s Guide for Ethical Business Conduct, which we updated in 2015. The program is also supported by our reporting system “I Share Network” for Delhaize Group associates to report issues or concerns related to the Guide for Ethical Business Conduct or other legal obligations of the Company.

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