The sustainability trend is going strong in food retail, and the latest example of that comes from Ahold Delhaize.
On Tuesday it said that the “full proceeds of the company’s first Sustainability Bond have been used to support the increased consumption of sustainably sourced products, further reduce the company’s climate impact and increase sales of healthier products.”
Ahold Delhaize said it raised about 600 million euros in June of 2019 (worth about $673.5 million today) “through the issuance of a Sustainability Bond maturing on June 26, 2025. The transaction made Ahold Delhaize the first retailer to issue a euro-denominated Sustainability Bond, highlighting the company’s commitment to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems.”
The food retailer said most of the bond — about 432 million euros, or approximately $485 million at current exchange rates — “were used to further expand sourcing of sustainable seafood, coffee, tea, and cocoa. In addition, some of the proceeds were allocated to the production cost of the ‘Urban Farm’ on the roof of a Delhaize Belgium store.” Other money went toward “renewable energy installations, energy efficient equipment, refrigeration improvements, and green buildings.
"Specific projects included the installation of LED lighting, heat reclaim systems, CO2 refrigeration systems, energy efficient doors on refrigerated cases, and solar panels in distribution centers, stores and offices.” Money also went to healthier eating programs and efforts to offer more transparency about product nutritional value to customers.
“Through this first experience in connecting our health and sustainability ambitions with company financing, we learned there are many investors who are both eager to support the transition to a more sustainable food future and share with us their learnings,” said Miguel Silva Gonzalez, senior vice president and treasurer for Ahold Delhaize. “Those learnings informed our recent sustainability actions, and we’re very optimistic about future potential for sustainability-linked financing.”
Earlier in June, Ahold Delhaize released its first “Human Rights Report.” In the report, Ahold Delhaize said it “has identified six salient human rights issues that it will focus on as initial priorities, followed by six additional relevant issues. Furthermore, Ahold Delhaize is strengthening its governance to ensure human rights are fully embedded within its strategy and to support the brands as they ensure that the protection of human rights is an integral part of their business activities.”
Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is the parent company for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. companies, consisting of Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, as well as e-grocer Peapod; Retail Business Services, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands; and Peapod Digital Labs, its ecommerce engine. Operating more than 2,000 stores across 23 states, Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in the United States.