1. ESG

Ahold Delhaize appoints first chief sustainability officer

Dive Brief:

  • Ahold Delhaize announced on Wednesday it has named Jan Ernst de Groot as its first chief sustainability officer.
  • In the newly created role, de Groot will head up Ahold Delhaize’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) work. De Groot will also retain his role as chief legal officer for the grocery company.
  • Ahold Delhaize noted that de Groot has a “track record of leading transformative sustainability programs at companies and supervisory roles at NGOs and civil society organizations.”

Dive Insight:

Ahold Delhaize’s announcement comes at a time when more grocers are stepping up their sustainability efforts and making ESG a focus at the c-suite level.

De Groot has served as Ahold Delhaize’s chief legal officer since July 2016 and is also on the company’s executive committee. He joined Ahold’s executive committee in early 2015 and was on it when the company merged with Delhaize Group.

His previous experience includes working at the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and serving as general counsel and managing director at freight and package transportation firm TNT Express before it was acquired by FedEx.

Ahold Delhaize Chief Sustainability Officer Jan Ernst de Groot
Courtesy of Ahold Delhaize

In the new sustainability role, de Groot will work with Daniella Vega, Ahold Delhaize’s senior vice president of health and sustainability, and other senior leaders at the company.

Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller said in a statement that de Groot’s appointment to the top sustainability role will “ensure that the full scope and dimension of sustainability and ESG are holistically represented” at the top of the company.

In November, Ahold Delhaize moved up its timeline of reaching net-zero carbon emissions across its own operations to 2040 — 10 years earlier than previously planned. The company also said at the time it aims to become a net-zero business across its entire supply chain, products and services by 2050.

To achieve these goals, the grocer is carrying out a wide range of initiatives, from cutting food waste to rolling out more sustainable packaging for its private label products.

Companies across retail have added c-level positions overseeing sustainability efforts in recent years, and grocers are beginning to follow suit.

Last fall, Albertsons named Suzanne Long, who had been leading the grocery chain’s ESG efforts since late 2020, as its first chief sustainability officer. The company unveiled its ESG framework this spring and set new sustainability targets, including a 47% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

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