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De Groot will retain his post as chief legal officer of Ahold Delhaize in taking on the role of the company's sustainability chief.

Ahold Delhaize taps Jan Ernst de Groot as chief sustainability officer

New position expands duties of global food retailer’s chief legal officer

Ahold Delhaize is putting sustainability in the C-suite.

The Zaandam, Netherlands-based global food retailer said Wednesday it has appointed Jan Ernst de Groot as chief sustainability officer, a newly created position. In the role, he will lead all aspects of company’s environmental sustainability, healthy eating, social impact, ethics, human rights and governance efforts.

“For a long time, sustainability has a central position in our organization,” Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller said in a statement. “Our activity and performance in this area are attracting increasing interest from customers, [future] associates, investors and other stakeholders. With the appointment of Jan Ernst, we ensure that the full scope and dimension of sustainability and ESG [environmental, social and governance] are holistically represented at the executive committee level.”

Jan Ernst de Groot-Ahold Delhaize.jpgDe Groot (pictured left) will continue to serve as chief legal officer, a role he’s held since 2016, as well as on the executive committee. Ahold noted that he has an established track record in the Dutch and international sustainability communities after leading transformative sustainability programs at companies and supervisory roles at NGOs and civil society organizations.

“At Ahold Delhaize, we want to lead the transition to a sustainable food system,” de Groot commented. “I look forward to working with Daniella Vega, our SVP health and sustainability, and other senior leaders across our organization to further define the right, ambitious and future-oriented strategy and ensure execution and delivery of our targets, for the betterment of society as a whole.”

Ahold Delhaize said its sustainability strategy is based on the belief that what's healthy and sustainable should be available and accessible to all. Centered around the conviction that the world’s health crisis and climate crisis are intrinsically linked, the retailer said it collaborates with its partners to do “the right thing for people and planet.”

In November, Ahold Delhaize reported that it held the top spot in the U.S. food and staples retail sector index of the 2021 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. And earlier that month, the company announced that it had moved up its net-zero carbon emissions target by 10 years. With the expedited target, the retailer and its brands now aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions across operations by no later than 2040 (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) and become net-zero businesses across the company’s supply chain, products and services (Scope 3 emissions) by no later than 2050.

The company’s U.S. business, Ahold Delhaize USA, encompasses the Stop & Shop, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Food Lion and Hannaford supermarket chains plus online grocer FreshDirect, e-commerce/digital arm Peapod Digital Labs, distribution subsidiary ADUSA Supply Chain, and support services unit Retail Business Services.

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