Materiality

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We want to know what sustainability concerns are important to our stakeholders and where we have a particular impact on the environment in which we operate. Only when we know this information will we be able to set the right focal points in our everyday work and sustainability reporting. To help us with this, we draw on the findings obtained from our materiality process.

Further development of the materiality process in 2017

[GRI 102-49] We have continued developing our approach since performing our first materiality process for the Sustainability Report 2015. In 2017, we surveyed nearly 3,200 stakeholders across the Group by way of interviews and online questionnaires. In doing so, we managed to significantly increase the meaningfulness of the findings. We included existing and potential clients in the survey for the first time as well.

Here is a detailed look at what we optimised:

Survey methods

[GRI 102-46] We significantly expanded the scope and reach of our survey overall. In the process, we decided against document analysis in 2017 in favour of engaging in a more direct dialogue with our stakeholders. In the end, we surveyed 3,000 customers in five countries where ALDI North operates by way of a professional online customer panel. We expanded the internal survey as well by incorporating many more business units from the entire Group, including the respective senior decision-makers and corporate responsibility (CR) officers. In Germany, Portugal and Denmark, we spoke with selected suppliers, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the works councils of two regional companies and experts in interviews conducted either in person or on the phone. The interviews with experts were designed in particular to help assess the impact of our business operations on the economy, the environment and society.

Selection of stakeholders

[GRI 102-40, 42] We intended for our survey to focus on those stakeholders of greatest importance to ALDI North, which is why the stakeholders were divided into groups and rated based on their relevance to ALDI North. We took the following factors into account:

  • Is the stakeholder group affected by ALDI North’s business, economic, environmental and social impact?
  • Does the stakeholder group influence corporate success?
  • Is there potential for conflict between the stakeholder group and ALDI North?

Using this method, we determined that the following stakeholder groups are particularly important to ALDI North:

  • Customers and potential customers
  • NGOs, initiatives and associations
  • Employees
  • Works councils
  • Business partners/suppliers

Other stakeholder groups, such as political figures and members of the media, are taken into account as part of our everyday work. However, they were not actively surveyed within the scope of our materiality analysis.

Evaluation perspectives

[GRI 102-46] All stakeholders were asked to rate the relevance of various sustainability issues on a scale of “unimportant” to “very important”. Customers, NGOs, employees, works council members and suppliers gave their opinion on how important the topics are from their respective angle as stakeholders. The respective management boards of the legally independent companies of ALDI North gauged to what extent the topics impact business success. In addition to this, we added another perspective to the process in 2017: sustainability experts. We therefore conducted interviews with scientists and researchers and also surveyed the ALDI North CR experts online. They evaluated the impact of operations on the economy, the environment and society for each topic.

List of topics

[GRI 102-49] Respondents were able to evaluate 42 topics that can be assigned to our five fields of action or to management. We revised the list of topics in the reporting year in order to account for current developments in retail and the field of sustainability. For this reason, comparability with the findings from 2015 is limited.

Materiality matrix

[GRI 102-46, 47] The findings from the survey have been compiled in a materiality matrix in accordance with the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The y-axis reveals how important the topics are from the perspective of our stakeholders (the higher a topic is placed, the more important it is). The x-axis indicates how great ALDI North’s impact is on the economy, the environment and society with regard to the topics from the view of the sustainability experts who we surveyed (the farther a topic is placed to the right, the more important it is). A circle around a given topic means that the managing directors or senior decision-makers believe it is “very highly” relevant to business success (all other topics are “highly relevant” and have therefore not been expressly marked as such).

Clicking on a given topic will display the individual issues that comprise it.

Customer communication
  • Responsible marketing and transparent communication
Transparency & dialogue
  • Dialogue with stakeholders
  • Transparency and reporting
Raising consumer awareness
  • Promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle  
Social responsibility
  • Social commitment
  • Offering food at affordable prices
Diverse product range
  • Products for special nutritional requirements 
Packaging & cycle
  • Circular economy
  • More sustainable packaging 
More sustainable product-range selection
  • Product and service labelling
  • More sustainable products
  • Product quality and safety
Sustainable standards in the supply chain
  • Working conditions in the supply chain
  • Impact of farming, forestry and fishing on the environment and biodiversity
  • Use of chemicals in production   
  • Dialogue with stakeholders in the supply chain
  • Use of genetic engineering in production
  • Commitment to greater animal welfare 
  • Fair business relationships
  • Sustainable purchasing practices
  • Optimisation of resource consumption in production
  • Transparency & traceability in the supply chain
Compliance
  • Data protection
  • Ethical business practices and compliance
Regional value creation
  • Regional responsibility as an investor, employer, contracting authority and supplier
Customer relations
  • Customer focus and service quality
Corporate governance
  • Sustainability in corporate governance
  • Business success
Occupational health & safety
  • Safety at work
  • Health of employees
Attractive employer
  • Training and education
  • Fair employer
  • Raising employee awareness of sustainability
Diversity & co-determination
  • Employee involvement
  • Diversity and equality
Work-life balance
  • Work-life balance
Waste & food waste
  • Waste from business operations
  • Prevention of food losses
Climate protection
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Environmental protection at company locations
Mobility & logistics
  • Sustainable logistics
  • Sustainable mobility

Key findings

[GRI 102-46] The findings largely confirm our previous assessment. In general, all topics were recognised as being highly or very highly relevant.

The topics from the supply chain responsibility field of action are consistently “very highly relevant” to our stakeholders, while sustainability experts indicated that these topics have a “very high impact on the economy, the environment and society”. “Waste & food waste” was also rated as being very important. The hot social debate concerning food waste – also being addressed at the Group – is evident here, just as the matrix also reflects public discussion about packaging.

The other topics from the employee appreciation, dialogue promotion and resource conservation fields of action do not share the same kind of strong focus, but are still highly relevant. As was to be expected, the topics from the social commitment field of action were rated as being less relevant when compared with other topics.

Impact on reporting

[GRI 102-44] You will find the topics of material importance listed under “Key topics” in our Sustainability Report 2017 where they have been arranged in descending order of relevance. Due to its significance, we have divided the topic of “Sustainable standards in the supply chain” into “Food” and “Non-food”; “More sustainable product-range selection” has also been broken down into product quality and product range. The topics of “Customer communication” and “Customer relations” as well as “Diversity & co-determination” and “Work-life balance” have been respectively combined.

In selecting our “Highlights”, we focused in particular on the key issues of our most important stakeholder groups – customers and NGOs. They are complemented by a variety of brief stories from the Group.