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Ahold Delhaize USA raises sustainability standards

New chemicals policy for own brands, packaging goes “beyond what’s required by law”

Ahold Delhaize USA has adopted a new sustainable chemistry policy for its products and packaging.

Under the initiative, the company’s Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford and Stop & Shop supermarket chains; Peapod online grocery arm; and Retail Business Services (RBS) support unit will restrict certain chemicals from products and packaging as well as work with suppliers to ensure products meet standards for ingredients beyond what’s required by law.

The five grocery retailers, Peapod and RBS also will collaborate with suppliers to address the causes of any contaminants, Ahold Delhaize USA said yesterday in announcing the effort.

“The great local brands of Ahold Delhaize USA are known for their close local and personal connections with customers and communities,” Brittni Furrow, vice president of sustainable retailing and healthy living at Ahold Delhaize USA, said in a statement. “Consumers indicate they want more transparent products for their families, made with ingredients they can feel good about. We’re pleased to launch this new commitment, which will bring more sustainable options, free from unwanted ingredients, to neighborhood grocery stores.”

Under the new practices, Ahold Delhaize USA and its subsidiaries will restrict the intentional use of “chemicals of concern” — including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), bisphenol A (BPAs) and phthalates, among others — and put them on a restricted substance list for the company’s private-brand products and food packaging. The list also will help ensure that more sustainable alternatives for these chemicals are used, the company added.

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Starting in 2020, Ahold Delhaize USA’s business units will expand supplier testing requirements to confirm that priority products meet standards above what’s required by U.S. law for potential chemicals of concern. The company said its local brands are committed to using credible certification programs that further address priority materials for coffee, tea and cocoa products with Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade or organic programs.

Ahold Delhaize USA and its brands, too, will partner with suppliers, agricultural producers and external organizations to research and minimize potential contaminants of concern in finished products, as well as to advance greener chemistry options. The company said it also aims to provide more product ingredient information to consumers, beyond what’s required by law, to support the selection of trusted brands and products.

In addition, beginning next year, Ahold Delhaize USA and its companies will participate in The Chemical Footprint Project and report annually on the company’s progress toward its sustainable chemistry commitment.

“Each of the Ahold Delhaize USA companies is committed to sustainable chemistry from farms and fields to production and packaging to store shelves,” Furrow explained. “Sustainable chemistry is a complex and evolving topic, but one that Ahold Delhaize USA and its companies are committed to addressing in collaboration with others in the best interest of consumers.”

According to Food Lion, Ahold Delhaize USA’s largest chain by stores, with more than 1,000 locations in the Southeast, the company will also monitor emerging information and reports to ensure that their restricted substance lists are updated regularly.

The Salisbury, N.C.-based grocery chain noted that the work builds on an effort begun last year by RBS to remove synthetic colors, artificial flavors and preservatives, sweeteners, MSG and high-fructose corn syrup from all private-label products by 2025. RBS, also based in Salisbury, develops private-brand products for each of the Ahold Delhaize USA supermarket brands.

“Food Lion is committed to caring for our customers and our communities. This sustainable chemistry commitment is just one more way we are demonstrating that care through our sustainability initiatives,” stated Meg Ham, president of Food Lion. “Food Lion has always been committed to making available the best products for our customers to nourish their families and today we are taking that commitment one step further.”

Overall, Ahold Delhaize USA operates nearly 2,000 supermarkets on the East Coast and generates more than 6 billion annualized online grocery orders. 

Parent company Ahold Delhaize, based in Zaadam, the Netherlands, said at the end of 2018 that it’s delivering on its 2020 sustainability targets, including 50% of own-brand food sales recognized for good nutritional value, a 20% reduction in food waste since 2016 and a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2008. By 2025, the company aims to make 100% of its own-brand plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable.

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