Photo: Albert Heijn
Netherlands retailer Albert Heijn has announced it is to remove all plastic bags from its fruit and vegetable departments and replace them with reusable, washable alternatives. In a statement, the company said the bags would disappear from its stores by the end of 2021, a move that will end the use of around 130m individual bags – or 243 tos of plastic – per year. A return system for the 31m bags used every year to deliver groceries to homes will also be introduced, it said, resulting in about 645 tons of plastic per annum being recycled responsibly.
According to the statement: “Everyone knows the plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department Handy for loose apples or green beans, but bad for the environment if you don’t recycle them properly.”
For a two-week period from mid-April, all Albert Heijn customers in the Netherlands will receive a free reusable bag for fresh produce that is weighed in store before being purchased.
Photo: Albert Heijn
Dutch retailer Albert Heijn has discontinued its speech technology app for Google Assistant, following an unsuccessful trial. The move means that Dutch shoppers can no longer dictate their shopping lists for Albert Heijn on their smartphones. In 2018, AH became one of the first companies in the Netherlands to start using the technology.
Despite the move by AH, other retailers will continue using Google Assistant, including Belgian chain Colruyt, which started using the technology at the beginning of 2019. The application, which can be downloaded for both iPhone and mobile Google devices, allows customers to add products to their shopping list by voice, request recipes and receive assistance with cooking.
In France, consumers can “talk” with Carrefour. Since June of this year, customers are able to place online orders directly, simply by using their voice. According to the retailer, 46% of people in France already use voice technology.
A ‘buy one, get two free’ promotion by Dutch retailer Albert Heijn in Belgium has led to an inquiry. As part of the campaign, which took place on New Year’s Day 2020 and has been implemented before, Albert Heijn offers customers buying a specific item on that day the opportunity to buy one and get three of the products. The Federal Public Service Economy has now said it will look into whether or not that huge discount means that those items were sold at a loss, a practice that is illegal in Belgium. Speaking to Belgian website BusinessAM, spokesperson Chantal De Pauw said, “As it is a similar action to the last one, we will indeed launch another inquiry.” Last year, the FPS Economy carried out an inquiry when Albert Heijn rolled out a similar promotion. The investigation found that 2 of the 28 products involved were indeed being sold at a loss. On this occasion, the promotion involved a smaller product range.
With a 34% market share in the Netherlands today, Albert Heijn continues to improve its market position
The leading Dutch supermarket chain continues to improve its market position mainly due to an increase in the number of stores and the development of e-commerce. The market share of Albert Heijn shops in the Netherlands has risen by nearly 10% over the last 10 years from 25.3% in 2004 to 34% in 2014.
A new stage of sustainability
“To be able to market these specific ready-made salads with specific types and varieties of lettuce, long-term planning with our suppliers is even more necessary,” said Leon Mol, sourcing manager for vegetables. These suppliers are located in North-Western Europe and Southern Europe, though unexpected weather conditions in Southern Europe have made it very challenging to meet our requirements in volume and quality. Sustainability has been at a high level for a long time and has now entered a new stage of development. After mainstreaming basic requirements across the whole fruit & vegetable category, there is renewed attention for specific crops in specific regions of production. These projects can really make a difference for such an area.
Organics, ahead in transparency and traceability
“The organic sector is ahead of the conventional sector when it comes to traceability and transparency,” Mol said. The professionalisation of the organics sector is ongoing and very much needed for further growth in the organics market. Although full transparency of the supply chain is a basic requirement, more attention is still needed. “The identity of a product is more and more a part of the market proposal,” Mol said. The sales of organics represent about 3% of Albert Heijn stores’ sales and this is due to rise significantly, since the number of items has grown.
This is a short version of an article which appeared on page 30 of edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read it for free here.