Fruit and vegetables: sustainability on a wide scale

Our range of fruit and vegetables is steadily becoming more sustainable. But what does that actually mean? And how can we make lasting improvements in cultivation on a wide scale? In the Netherlands, we are finding the answers in a joint project with suppliers and producers.

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When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the Netherlands is truly a global player. The small country exports its agricultural produce across the whole world. Fruit and vegetables from the Netherlands can be found on the shelves in 150 countries. Together with suppliers and producers, we are making efforts in the Netherlands to make the traditional cultivation of fruit and vegetables more environmentally friendly. Our partner here is SMK (Stichting Milieukeur) with its PlanetProof quality label. The foundation has a quality label for conventionally cultivated products that stand out due to improvements aimed at achieving sustainability, such as regarding the use of pesticides, water protection, land management and energy conservation. These efforts are meant to establish sustainability on a wide scale in agriculture. Our goal: to have the PlanetProof quality label by 2019 at the latest for all fruit and vegetables grown in the Netherlands. Gijs Dröge, Director of SMK, is thrilled about this initiative: “This step is important for achieving greater sustainability in cultivation.”

PlanetProof logo

2019
Our fruit and vegetables (including potatoes) grown in the Netherlands have the PlanetProof quality label.

In-depth dialogue and close cooperation

One thing is clear: it will not be possible to change existing agricultural processes overnight, which is why we are helping producers to implement the new PlanetProof requirements step by step. Since October 2017, we have been teaming up with our suppliers, producers and SMK on issues such as pesticides, water, energy and fertilisers. The Dutch industry association GroentenFruitHuis is also involved in our in-depth dialogue. “It’s great that ALDI is taking this step and accounting for producers’ efforts and the necessary changeover period,” says Peter Verbaas, Head of Food Security & Supply Chain at GroentenFruitHuis.

At the beginning of the project in October 2017, we held ten workshops alone with twelve suppliers and 150 producers to clarify unanswered questions and create a specific timetable for the changeover.

The next steps

More workshops have been planned for 2018 to assist producers with the changeover. And who knows – maybe the PlanetProof quality label will soon serve as a precedent outside the Netherlands as well. SMK has already been engaged in talks for some time about the customisation of the existing certification system and its possible expansion abroad. Eline Poels, Manager Corporate Responsibility in the Netherlands, is ready in any case: “We are first starting with producers in the Netherlands. After all, the quality label is mainly known here.

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