10. Innovation and Product Management

The company discloses how innovations in products and services are enhanced through suitable processes which improve sustainability with respect to the company’s utilisation of resources and with regard to users. Likewise, a further statement is made with regard to if and how the current and future impact of the key products and services in the value chain and in the product life cycle are assessed.

Our objective is to enable millions of customers in Europe to shop in our stores with a good conscience. To make this possible, we take responsibility for safe and fair working conditions and compliance with environmental standards wherever we can make a difference. Our non-food range includes, among other things, textiles, cosmetic and toiletry products, and weekly special-buy products – from electronics and household goods to furniture. The supply chains behind these products are diverse and complex. During production, non-food products often pass through several production sites in various different countries. Hence, the challenges are complex as well: Issues such as building safety, living wages or reducing the use of chemicals in textile production require cross-sector cooperation among companies, governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). That is why we have joined forces with other players to work on these challenges in global initiatives such as amfori BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative).    

Our food product range is made up primarily of own-brand products that we select and design for our customers. We define purchasing policies for specific resources and internal purchasing guidelines while pursuing a risk-based approach. This means that we take action where environmental or social challenges exist – and where we can therefore achieve the greatest impact through our improvements. We work in close cooperation with our suppliers and are in constant contact regarding our sustainability requirements to enable them to implement our standards. We also participate in cross-sector and multistakeholder initiatives on a variety of topics, such as tropical and subtropical fruits. The traceability of products is gaining more and more importance for us to manage the conversion of resources all the way through to the producer. The ALDI Transparency Code (ATC) allows our customers to quickly find out where various products come from. In addition, we work with recognised sustainability labels, seals and certificates.  

Product rating
We analyse our product offering from sustainability and risk perspectives. Which resources are subject to risks on account of their manufacturing and cultivation methods and are therefore a topic of debate in the public domain? What is frequently used in our product range or is in great demand? The result is that we achieve environmental, social and economic improvement in production for a maximally large number of own-brand products and the resources they are made of.  

The Corporate Responsibility (CR) department of ALDI Buying draws up the raw material-specific purchasing policies in consultation with the Purchasing Department and the ALDI North Countries. There and in the sustainability report (food and non-food as well as in the highlights), the effects of the raw materials or products can be found.    

In late 2017, we started discontinuing conventional disposable plastic shopping bags in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Once the conversion process has been completed, these ALDI North Group countries will only carry reusable totes. For more information, please see the story entitled Disposing with disposables”.

Raising consumer awareness
We use various tools to inform our customers about social and environmental aspects of our products. Our customer magazine ALDI aktuell and our advertising campaigns often focus on our sustainably certified products. In our stores, we attract our customers’ attention to such products through appropriate labelling on shelves and through posters. Moreover, we create transparency through clear product labelling by using recognised sustainability seals and own brands. We raise awareness of special sustainability requirements through special campaigns and projects. In the Netherlands, for example, we are committed to raising awareness of the issue of plastic waste among schoolchildren. The employees of the ALDI North Group also receive comprehensive information about the sustainability aspects of our products, initiatives and projects.  

As a second cornerstone, we offer our customers an appropriate range of products for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, such as a wide selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthier product alternatives with less sugar and products for special nutritional requirements, as well as products containing certified resources and from controlled production.  

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