Food Lion has bolstered its sustainability strategy with expanded commitments in food transparency and nutrition, waste reduction and climate change initiatives.
The Salisbury, N.C.-based supermarket chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, said Monday that its new targets will give customers more information on food sourcing, cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions across all operations, and eliminate waste through the retailer’s supply chain.
Overall, Food Lion operates more than 1,000 stores in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
“In 2015, we set big goals for ourselves to achieve significant sustainability targets in several critical areas, and I’m proud to say we’ve met or exceeded many of those milestones,” Food Lion President Meg Ham said in a statement. “However, we know much more work needs to be done, and that’s why we’re holding ourselves accountable for even bigger goals that we hope to achieve by 2025 and beyond. We are committed to sustainability across every part of our business — now and into the future — and we’re making it easier for our customers to join us to create a more sustainable community, because we all have a role to play.”
For example, Food Lion said it will be 100% sustainably certified in its palm oil, pulp and paper products and packaging and make key advances in animal welfare and human rights by 2025. Also in that time span, the grocer plans to offer a 100% cage-free shell egg assortment.
In addition, Food Lion is working on a program that allows customers to shop based on personal sustainability preferences such as less plastic, humane treatment of animals and products free of chemicals of concern. The chain, too, reiterated its support of traceability and clear transparency in the supply chain.
“Our neighbors deserve to know where their food comes from and that it contains ingredients they trust,” according to Ham. “We are passionate about providing our customers with products they have confidence in and that fit their dietary needs and lifestyle, from farm to table, sea to store.”
In February 2020, for instance, Food Lion joined the Ocean Disclosure Project to enable customers to see the origin of wild-caught seafood and trace it back more easily to its source. All seafood sold in Food Lion stores is traceable to the wild fishery or farm and come from sustainable sources, the retailer said. Food Lion and parent company Ahold Delhaize USA also recently committed to a transparent GMO labeling option to help shoppers better understand what’s in the food they buy. All private-label products will have clear, on-pack Bioengineered Food disclosure “well ahead” of the Federal Bioengineered labeling deadline of Jan. 1, 2022, the grocer said.
In the area of waste elimination, Food Lion said it aims to halve its current level of food waste by 2030. To that end, the chain is targeting 85% waste diversion in its more than 1,000 stores through recycling, composting and animal feed. Since 2015, the grocer has cut its annual waste to landfill or incinerator by nearly 60,000 tons. Also, by 2025, all of Food Lion’s plastic packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable. Last year, the retailer recycled more than 170,000 tons of cardboard and paper plus 6,900 tons of plastic.
Another pivotal way Food Lion is cutting down on waste is by donating near-date food to local anti-hunger agencies to feed food-insecure neighbors. Through a food rescue program with Feeding America, the chain has donated the equivalent of more than 339 million meals since 2014.
To address climate change, Food Lion aims to slash carbon emissions by 50% from its own operations by 2030 and work with suppliers to reduce emissions from the supply chain by 15%.
Last week, Food Lion announced that it was named the Energy Star Partner of the Year for the 20th straight year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the only company to do so. The retailer also was recognized with the Sustained Excellence Award for the 18th consecutive year. The award is given to partners that have gone above and beyond the criteria needed to qualify for recognition and have already received Energy Partner of the Year recognition for at least of two straight years.
More than 900 Food Lion stores have received the Energy Star certification at least once. These stores represent 89% of all Food Lion locations and account for 36% of all Energy Star-certified supermarkets nationwide, the grocer said. Since 2000, Food Lion has reduced carbon emissions by more than 593,103 metric tons, investing $15 million to improve operational efficiencies.
Other efforts to scale back carbon emissions include transitioning to more climate-friendly refrigerants, reduce refrigerant leaks, and sharpen transportation and logistics efficiency.
“We are proud and honored to serve as a leader in energy conservation and efficiency,” Matt Yates, vice president of brand strategy for Food Lion, stated about the Energy Star Partner of the Year honors. “Our work to reduce our energy usage stretches through every part of our business, from our supply chain to our store operations. We remain committed to reducing our carbon footprint and doing our part to be a responsible, trusted neighbor in the towns and cities we serve.”
Being a trusted neighbor also includes serving up. more better-for-you food options. Food Lion said it plans to have more than 48% of private-brand food sales come from healthy sales by 2025. To that end, Food Lion and Ahold Delhaize USA have teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to boost access to healthier food choices for consumers and publicly disclose the percentage of sales from healthier options. All Food Lion stores offer the company’s Nature’s Promise natural, organic and “free from” product line, which features simple ingredients and no artificial flavors, artificial preservatives and synthetic colors. The grocer also carries products rated by Guiding Stars, a proprietary nutrition guidance system that assists customers in making more informed nutrition decisions at the shelf.