On a rescue mission
Every year, Europeans toss out millions of tonnes of food. This is not just an ethical problem, as throwing away food also means wasting valuable resources. We think that this must stop.
Through initiatives like Foodsharing in Germany and other European countries, more and more people have begun to declare war on food waste. These efforts are urgently required, as almost one third of the food produced globally is wasted or thrown away across the supply chain. In the European Union, food waste amounts on an annual average to 173 kilos per capita (EU infographic). Food is often discarded shortly after the best-before date, even though it is still edible. However, the problem begins earlier than this. Food is rejected even on the fields if it doesn’t satisfy certain requirements.
Our recipe against waste
Private households generate around 50 per cent of the food waste in industrialised countries, while processing accounts for 19 per cent and retailers – like ALDI North – for 5 per cent. Even though our area of influence is limited, we are actively committed to a responsible approach to food. In Germany, for example, we joined the EU initiative REFRESH (Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain) in 2017. In the Netherlands, we are carrying out two more projects with Wageningen University. Against this backdrop, we are looking across the entire supply chain for solutions to reduce food waste. We are also examining what options there are for making use of leftovers. As part of our Corporate Responsibility (CR) programme, we are also currently drawing up international guidelines on food waste.
We are making various adjustments to keep food waste to an absolute minimum. For example, we are attempting to plan store inventories with utmost precision so that as little as possible is left over. In Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Poland, our customers will find our goods marked down in the “sustainability boxes” shortly before their best-before date. However, most food waste happens at home, which is why we provide our customers with some tips on the packaging on how to best store different products. Improper storage is one of the reasons that food spoils prematurely. What is more, in many stores, our featured recipe of the week shows how to make the next meal using leftover recipe ingredients.
A second chance for leftover food
We donate food that is still edible, but which can no longer be sold, to charitable organisations, which then distribute it to the needy. Throughout the entire Group, 75 per cent of stores already donate food on a regular basis. We want to further increase this figure in future and also bring new partner organisations on board.
Our international approach to the problem
From southern Europe all the way up to Scandinavia in the north, in every country where we have retail operations, we are involved in alliances and projects to fight food waste. Some of them are presented on this map by clicking on them:
In Wallonia – one of Belgium’s three regions – it is required by law to donate food. Accordingly, all Belgian stores donate unsold seasonal products that are still edible to charitable organisations.
In Denmark, efforts to combat food waste have long been a key issue, which is why we are improving our logistics here. The goal: to adjust order quantities to actual sales as effectively as possible. We offer products about to pass their best-before date at a reduced price. We also support a number of smaller organisations committed to fighting food waste. They take care of collecting unsaleable food that is still edible. One of these organisations – Stop Spild Lokalt (Stop Waste Locally) – was established in 2016 by Rasmus Erichsen, who was just 18 years old at the time. Stop Spild Lokalt is now active in 97 cities in Denmark.
“I am overwhelmed by my project’s success. It’s fun to be able to help a lot of people – and it’s also great for the environment.”
Stop Spild Lokalt
“Food waste is a key issue for consumers. As a company, we have a responsibility to reduce food waste, which is why we collaborate with various organisations such as Stop Spild Lokalt and the Danish food bank FødevareBanken.”
ALDI Divisional Managing Director Corporate Responsibility in Denmark
Even though our area of influence is limited, we are actively committed to a responsible approach to food. In Germany, for example, we joined the EU initiative REFRESH (Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain) in 2017.
We are working against food waste in France as well. To do so, we mark down bread and fresh products shortly before their best-before date. In 2017, 208 stores in France donated food.
Since July 2017, ALDI Netherlands has been taking a scientific approach to get to the bottom of this issue. We are partnering with Wageningen University on two research projects. The CARVE project tackles the supply chain and examines where there is room for improvement in food logistics, from the supplier to the distribution centre and the store. In the Houdbaarheid Begrepen project, the focus is on what we as a discounter can do to reduce food waste by consumers. By taking part in these projects, we are getting a good overview of the reasons behind food waste. Based on these insights, we can take steps towards reducing waste in future. We plan to publish a report with the results after the end of the project and to discuss our findings with stakeholders.
Many additional stores in the Netherlands also began donating food to charitable organisations in 2017. In 2016, 29 per cent of stores did so, while that figure jumped to 74 per cent in 2017.
“Reducing food waste is an important issue to us, which is why we are teaming up with the Voedselbanken Nederland food banks. That way, food that can no longer be sold gets a second chance.”
Manager Corporate Responsibility in the Netherlands
In Poland, we reduce the prices of products shortly before their best-before date. We also partner with Caritas to fight food waste.
In Spain, we regularly join forces with national food banks and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Fundació Formació i Treball. For a number of years already, unsaleable food and non-food products (from soap to shoes and textiles) that are still fit for consumption have been donated weekly to Fundació Formació i Treball. The foundation’s employees also regularly call on different stores in and around Barcelona to collect donated food.
“In Spain, many vulnerable and socially disadvantaged families – especially ones with children – lack fresh products, such as fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. It is only possible for charitable organisations like ours to meet this need – even if only to a small extent – through donated food. ”
Fundació Formació i Treball
Our Danish customers value environmentally friendly and local products highly. ALDI Denmark added 32 new organic products in 2017 and significantly increased the proportion of certified fish products
The dialogue with our stakeholders provides us with valuable insights for our CR efforts. We are in contact with customers, employees, NGOs, initiatives, associations, suppliers, business partners, works councils and unions.
We leverage our expertise and experience to contribute to finding a solution for societal problems above and beyond our core business. As part of our social commitment, we support a wide range of projects.
“The highest quality – the lowest prices”: in order to keep this promise, all ALDI North products undergo tough quality checks. For employees in Quality Assurance, it is a demanding job.
Every year, consumers make 1.2 billion purchases at our stores. Our goal is to promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle – and make it possible for a broad section of society to engage in affordable, responsible consumption.
Within our CR Programme, we set clear goals for all fields of action. Our progress where they are concerned as part of the Sustainability Report.
We make no compromises when it comes to the quality of our products. We take responsibility for this aspect along the entire production and supply chain. The focus is always on our customers’ needs.
This is the ALDI North Group’s second comprehensive Sustainability Report. It serves to provide our stakeholders with transparent information about our material social, environmental and economic goals and measures.