Around the world, forests continue to disappear, often for agricultural, ranching and logging purposes. Deforestation and land conversion are a particular concern for tropical rainforests and ecosystems as they capture carbon emissions (and thus help mitigate climate change), are home to much of the world's biodiversity, and support livelihoods across the globe. In addition, protecting, restoring and sustainably managing natural ecosystems, such as old-growth forests, marshes, mangroves and peatlands, could help to avoid the worst climate scenarios. Because of this, the food industry must help reduce deforestation and land conversion and identifying alternative methods to produce the commodities that feed the world.
Ahold Delhaize and our brands have a wide-ranging approach to achieve zero deforestation and conversion, ultimately by 2025. There are predominantly four commodities that have significant impact on land conversion in our supply chains. For that reason, we have specific policies taking the High Conservation Value approach and the No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation principle into account on soy, palm oil and wood fiber. We use risk assessments to detect other forms of deforestation or conversion. Our Brands work with our suppliers to have traceability in place.
Ahold Delhaize uses the definitions according to the Accountability Framework International to advocate progression in supply chains and promote system change across the globe, we participate in multi-stakeholder forums, including:
Ahold Delhaize and its brands are committed that 100% of the volume of palm oil in our own brand products is certified sustainable against the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The palm oil used that is not certified directly is covered by buying certificate credits. The RSPO Principles and Criteria aims to protect the environment where palm oil is grown, as well as the people and communities who produce it. In addition, Ahold Delhaize is a member of the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition (POTC). The POTC aims to remove deforestation and exploitation from the palm oil production sector by using a robust engagement and evaluation process for measuring the progress of the major First Importers of palm oil into international markets. (see our position on palm oil for more information)
Ahold Delhaize brands are working towards 100% sustainably certified for our high risk soy. The biggest risks for deforestation in soy production come from South America, which is where we focus our efforts. Our brands work with standards such as the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), which supports the sustainable production of soy in South America. These standards also include requirements on fertilizer and pesticide use to protect soils and water. Also, Ahold Delhaize is one of the original signatories of the Statement of Support of the Cerrado Manifesto, to support development and growth in soy and cattle producing regions in a manner that avoids deforestation and native vegetation loss. (see our position on soy for more information).
Beef is sourced from all over the world and produced under a wide range of conditions, depending on the region. In South America beef production is a major contributor to deforestation and land conversion. However, the vast majority of beef products our brands sell, are sourced from areas that are not linked to deforestation. As a member of the multi-stakeholder Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), we aim to jointly limit deforestation through the GSRB Principles & Criteria.
Ahold Delhaize brands apply a three-pronged approach towards wood fiber, whereby the product or packaging, must be either ‘certified’, ‘be low risk’, or ‘recycled’. A target has been set to have our own-brand wood fiber products certified sustainable against an acceptable standard, low risk, or recycled of 100% (see our position on wood fiber for more information).
Ahold Delhaize brands are working towards 100% certified sustainable cocoa. Deforestation is a big issue in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce nearly two-thirds of the world’s supply of cocoa. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana respectively lost 25% and 8% of their primary forest between 2002 and 2019, with a significant portion of deforestation due to cocoa farming. Ahold Delhaize is a member of Retail Cocoa Collaboration (RCC). The aim of the RCC is to supports existing industry efforts to drive environmental and social improvements in the cocoa sector. The principle activity of the RCC is the Annual Trader Assessment. This is a robust process whereby major traders of cocoa, voted for by RCC members, are assessed on progress in cocoa sustainability, covering topics such as deforestation, traceability, gender equality, farmer incomes and child and forced labour (see our position on cacoa for more information).
Coffee production has increased over the past decade, potentially also expanding into forest areas. In addition, it is expected to become a bigger driver of deforestation over the coming decades due to increasing demand and climate change impacts that will likely shift suitable regions to higher altitudes that are now comprised of valuable forests. Therefore, Ahold Delhaize brands source sustainably certified own brand coffee products, complying with either UTZ/Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade Standards (see our position on coffee for more information).