Sustainable and ethical are two words that consumers are keeping top of mind while perusing products. The extra cost of purchasing something Fairtrade or environmentally friendly is often justified while shopping—and the consumer trends show that isn’t something dying down anytime soon. Retailers are also jumping at the chance of providing more eco-safe products. Lidl Belgium is one retailer that is pursuing a sustainable approach, announcing it will switch all products that it purchases that contain cocoa to be Fairtrade by 2025.
“We are convinced that everyone who is part of the chain must take responsibility. Because in addition to the price, consumers are also increasingly thinking about where the products come from. Fairtrade should not be dirt cheap, but affordable,” Philippe Weiler, Head of Sustainability at Lidl, stated. “Because we are a large international player, there are few intermediaries between us and the farmers, which means that the price can be kept low and the farmers still get a fair price.”
Apart from this new target, Lidl generated one of the largest Fairtrade premiums for Belgium for the second year in a row, mainly thanks to the sale of cocoa, bananas, coffee, and sugar.
This is not obvious for a supermarket chain that strives for the lowest possible price, but Lidl continues to follow its strategy to remain a leader in the field of sustainability. According to Fairtrade Belgium, the supermarket chain thus has a major positive impact on the volume of fair products.
“Lidl has been investing in fair trade practices for some time now. In 2020, the retailer generated more than 670,000 euros [$817,604 USD] in Fairtrade premium in Belgium alone—an amount that is paid to producer organizations on top of the guaranteed minimum purchase price of the product—of which 74 percent went to cocoa farmers,” Nicolas Lambert, Fairtrade Belgium, said. “That makes a big difference and helps producers to invest in their own development plans: sustainable farming practices, access to education and health care, etc.”
The fact that Lidl is once again one of the largest Fairtrade retailers in Belgium is mainly due to the success of its ‘Way to Go!’ chocolate. In addition to the classic Fairtrade chocolate, Lidl Belgium launched its own chocolate at the end of 2019 together with Fairtrade, Rikolto (formerly Vredeseilanden), and the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative. Through the sale of these tablets, the supermarket pays the cocoa farmers an extra premium on top of the minimum price and the Fairtrade premium, which is invested directly in projects on the site.
In addition to this initiative, Lidl Belgium is aspiring to switch all its cocoa purchases for its own brand to Fairtrade by 2025 as part of its new sustainability strategy. And those first steps have already been taken: in addition to most chocolate tablets under Lidl’s main house brands (Fin Carré and JD Gross) and the Favorina products for Easter, Christmas, and Sinterklaas, Lidl is also working on the switch for its own brands for patisserie and packaged pastries such as waffles and cakes. By this summer, those products will also be produced 100 percent with Fairtrade cocoa.
How will retailers continue to meet sustainability demands in their growth plans? And, will we see the same initiatives in the U.S.? Deli Market News will keep an eye on the newswire.