[GRI 102-16, 416/103-1] Offering high-quality products at low ALDI prices is the foundation on which our business philosophy is built. We make no compromises when it comes to the quality of our products. The health of consumers plays a pivotal role in the way we view quality and safety. We take responsibility for this aspect along the entire production and supply chain.
[GRI 416/103-2] The continuous improvement of product quality is the main goal of our quality assurance. To offer our customers only the best products, we have established comprehensive quality assurance and management processes at all levels of our value chain. Our own brands are subject to high quality standards that we also develop in cooperation with our suppliers. The focus is always on our customers’ wishes and needs. Independent tests by consumer organisations regularly confirm the quality of the ALDI North Group’s own-brand products.
Organisation & guidelines
[GRI 102-16, 416/103-2, 416-1] Throughout the Group, a multistage monitoring system ensures compliance with our quality requirements. Buyers, suppliers, manufacturers, quality managers and accredited independent testing labs are integrated within the system, as are warehouse and store employees. As part of this system, each product is tested a number of times. The process at a glance:
- We define comprehensive requirements for our suppliers during purchasing, usually through catalogues of requirements and our international and national purchasing policies.
- We deploy a range of different quality measures to check compliance with these quality standards, such as on-site checks, product samples and tastings, depending on the country. At the same time, tests are carried out on our products by independent testing labs. Test certificates confirm flawless quality.
- [GRI 416-1] In all ALDI North Group countries, we require producers of our own food brands to obtain certification in conformity with the Food Standard of the International Featured Standards (IFS). The requirements of the GLOBALG.A.P. apply to agricultural producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the standards of the QS Test System apply to fresh meat and sausages in certain countries
- Comprehensive incoming-goods inspections and inventory checks in the distribution centres and stores ensure constant quality assurance. To perform these duties, employees receive training on topics such as hygiene requirements and merchandise knowledge. A particular focus is placed on fruit and vegetables, as well as further fresh products.
- Our quality standards continue to apply even after the sale. We accept customer feedback and seek to provide our customers with the best possible solution. If customers make complaints, we adopt a fair and tolerant approach.
[GRI 416/103-2] Responsibility for the implementation of our quality standards rests with the ALDI companies in the ALDI North Group’s nine countries. They ensure that specific national characteristics – for example, requirements under statutory food regulations – are taken into account. Topics of overarching significance are prepared by ALDI Buying and agreed throughout the ALDI North Group. Constant communication between the quality managers ensures that knowledge and experience are shared throughout the ALDI North Group. There is also close coordination within the countries between Quality Assurance, Corporate Responsibility (CR), Buying, Sales and the regional companies.
[GRI 416/103-2] Quality is a key element of our mission statement “Simply ALDI”. Every year, there is a wide range of regulatory developments that affect our products. The topic of healthy nutrition, for example, has been in focus for more than ten years at a European level. In Spain, regional statutory regulations aimed at reducing the sugar content of drinks were announced in 2017. Quality Assurance is keeping an eye on the regulatory developments and is advising the Buying department in terms of implementation by our suppliers.
Progress and measures in 2017
Our products: improved combinations
We are constantly adapting the recipes of our own-brand products to meet changing customer demands or new regulatory requirements. The quality of the products must always be guaranteed to remain consistent. In Germany, we gradually reduced the sugar content of soft drinks, muesli, preserved fruits and other products in 2017. The formulas of cosmetics such as shampoos, shower gels and liquid soaps will also be adapted by the end of 2018 so as to completely replace certain poorly biodegradable polymers (often referred to as “liquid microbeads”). We stopped using solid microbeads, such as exfoliants, in 2015. In countries such as France, solid microbeads have already been completely banned in certain products.
ALDI Netherlands is taking part in a sector initiative which is committed to developing improved product combinations. As a result, we have been gradually adapting the recipes of various product groups there since 2014. In the year under review, we focused our attention on dairy products, soups and sauces, crisps and nut mixes. They now contain less salt and/or sugar.
In 2016, ALDI Belgium signed the Balanced Food Covenant (Convention Alimentation Equilibrée), which has been endorsed by Belgian food companies, retailers, restaurant chains, catering companies and the government. The Covenant aims to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fatty acids and increase the fibre content in specific product groups. In 2017, ALDI Belgium made adjustments to the product groups soft drinks, dairy products, breakfast cereals, biscuits, chocolate, and soya and vegetable drinks. A report on the Convention is scheduled for late 2018.
In Spain, we worked to reduce the amount of sugar in soft drinks in 2017. Our motivations in doing so included the implementation of regulatory requirements. Substances such as steviol glycosides are being used for this purpose. Eight recipes have already been improved, reducing the sugar content by 30 per cent on average. These products will be hitting shelves by June 2018. Further changes to products are planned for 2018.
Fruit and vegetable cultivation: reducing pesticides and herbicides
Our suppliers must comply with strict regulations for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. We always go beyond the statutory regulations in these areas. Since 2016, for example, we have banned the use of eight active ingredients in the cultivation of German fruit, vegetables and potatoes because they were suspected of being responsible for the decline of flying insects like bees, butterflies and hoverflies. In late 2016, ALDI held a second round of talks on “active ingredients toxic to bees” with various representatives of producers, associates and organisations, plant protection advisors and agencies, and testing labs. Further approaches to the protection of bees are currently being reviewed, and gradual implementation is already under way. In 2017, ALDI France introduced a product featuring the BEE FRIENDLY label conferred by the organisation of the same name. In Germany, the company has been selling bee-friendly perennials and plants for several years now.
Constant improvement of quality standards
Since 2017, our suppliers in Germany for certain non-food products such as cosmetic, hygiene and household products have been required to have certification in line with the current IFS HPC Standard. The standard supports them in complying with statutory product safety and quality regulations for household and personal care products. Implementation by our suppliers is scheduled to be completed by mid-2018.
Ad hoc special investigations
We keep an eye on current incidents and proactively launch special investigations as needed. In the year under review, this was the case in connection with evidence suggesting the presence of Fipronil in eggs throughout Europe, for example. Among other things, we removed individual products from sale on a precautionary basis and had fresh eggs and many products containing eggs tested for Fipronil. Only products for which suppliers can provide analysis reports proving the absence of Fipronil may be delivered to us. While implementing these measures, we maintained transparent and close communication with authorities, consumers and the press.
Targets and status
[GRI 416/103-2/3] Our quality promise is supported by individual targets within the ALDI North Group countries, as evidenced by international test results by organisations such as Spain’s Organización de Consumidores y Usarios (OCU) or Germany’s Stiftung Warentest and ÖKO-TEST, as well as our own market research and external awards.
Field of action: supply chain responsibility
|Objective||Status||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|Expansion of efforts to reduce the salt and sugar content in additional own-brand products||New||Ongoing||Expansion
||ALDI North Group|
Target achieved Ongoing process
The number of publicly recalled products broken down into food and non-food products
|Total||Recalls food||Recalls non-food||Total||Recalls food||Recalls non-food||Total||Recalls food||Recalls non-food|
|ALDI North Group||26||20||6||44||41||3||38||33||5|
1 The information regarding the legally independent companies of the ALDI North Group in Belgium and in Luxembourg has been combined for the purposes of a simplified presentation (refer to “Subject of the report”).
2 Six due to deficiencies relating to labelling requirements.
3 Sixteen regional recalls; a total of six recalls due to deficiencies relating to labelling requirements.
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.
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