Lidl UK sustainability model

Date : 05 November 2019

In Lidl's latest sustainability document, The Good Food Report 17/18, the retailer sets out its vision of 'making Good Food accessible for everyone'. We take an in-depth look at the three main components of this vision.

Source: Lidl website

1. Good for producers

Lidl has been focusing on two main areas to improve its supply chain; transparency and locality.

In 2019 the retailer added 'method of production' labels to all its fresh chicken to make it easier for shoppers to understand its sourcing methods. It also uses Red Tractor and Fairtrade labels to highlight high standards to shoppers recognisably and consistently.

Source: Lidl

Lidl currently stocks over 2,300 products from British suppliers. It aims to have a flexible supply chain that can adapt to challenges with the crops that are produced. For example, if unpredictable British weather causes pears to be smaller than usual, they can be transferred to the healthy fun-sized range for children. Or, if there is a bumper crop of carrots they can be absorbed into the Pick of the Week promotions.

The retailer plans to invest over £15 billion in British food, farming and production over the next five years. It aims to use this investment to deliver on five goals;

  1. Drive sales in British products over-proportionately to the business growth
  2. Export the 'best of British' through the international network of business
  3. Increase the number of suppliers covered by long-term commercial agreements
  4. Create long-term CSR business plans with all our strategic suppliers
  5. Provide smaller businesses access to the retail market and opportunities to grow

2. Good for people

Lidl's goal is to make safe, affordable and nutritious food accessible. This is by making food healthier, working towards the UK salt reduction targets and reducing sugar by 20% by 2020. It also aims to sell more fruit and vegetables. This is supported by its social media channels. During 2019 it doubled the number of social media posts promoting vegetables, to 303.

Source: Lidl Instagram

According to Lidl's research, it sells more fruit and vegetables as a proportion of the grocery basket than any other supermarket. Fruit and vegetable sales rose 20% between 2017 and 2019. The aim is to keep growing this area, particularly for children. The fun-sized range designed for them accounts for 30% of sales in fruit and vegetables. New products are being continuously added, with 17 additions to the range in 2019.

3. Good for our planet

Lidl has said;

"The Discounter model is inherently sustainable. That’s because we are always striving to be cost-efficient which naturally leads us to reduce our wider impact."

This year it cut carbon emissions by 16% and reduced its plastic footprint per £1m sales by 8%. It has also launched reusable fresh produce bags and committed to introducing more electric vehicle charging points.

Future goals are;

  • Cut carbon emissions for logistics, through a 25% reduction of carbon per pallet by 2028
  • Reduce food waste per store 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2030
  • Reduce private label packaging 20% by 2022
  • Ensure 100% of private label packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or refillable by 2025
  • Test and trial innovative closed-loop systems aimed at supporting a circular economy by 2020
  • Have a deforestation-free supply chain

Lidl has developed these goals based on research it conducted with its shoppers. Going forwards, it will be important for the retailer to communicate how it is delivering on these goals, showing accountability and transparency in the way it is operating and becoming more sustainable.

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