Ahold Delhaize is a passionate supporter of the well-being and welfare of farm animals. Not only is it a good business practice, as our customers expect and rely on us to do the right thing, we truly believe supporting animal welfare is the right thing to do. Ahold Delhaize acknowledges animal consciousness, understanding they feel pain and experience emotions, and therefore embraces the globally recognized five freedoms of animal welfare as the basis of this approach:
Freedom of hunger and thirst
Freedom from discomfort
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Freedom to express normal behavior
Freedom from fear or distress
At Ahold Delhaize we have senior management supporting our great local brands to address animal testing, growth promoting substances, routine mutilations, close confinements and stress during slaughter and transport. For the brand specific policies, see the links at the end of this webpage.
Scope and performance reporting
The local brands translate this global policy into day-to-day decision making. Our approach covers Ahold Delhaize’s ambitions for stronger animal welfare standards as they relate to own-brand whole or single ingredient products derived from farm animals globally (see our seafood policy for information on seafood). The brands comply at least to applicable legislation and are working to go further by continuously improving approaches and seeking better practices.
Ahold Delhaize cannot achieve this on its own and makes use of valuable horizontal and vertical collaborations. Our great local brands collaborate with their suppliers on improving animal welfare through contracts, certification and providing support. Furthermore, Ahold Delhaize participates in multi-stakeholder initiatives like GRSB, SAI Beef (ERBS) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership and GlobalG.A.P. (for pork and chicken). Key areas of action are antimicrobial use and mortality rates.
For Global commitments we disclose information on our website, and in our annual report. For specific region or brand progress, we refer to our local brand’s information.
Ahold Delhaize does not support the testing of own brand food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals, nor do we ask suppliers of our own brand products to conduct animal testing on our behalf, unless we have a legal obligation to do so. In the case of pet-food testing, the preference is to use kennel-animals.
Beta antagonists are sometimes used in livestock production to enhance growth and alter body composition. The use of beta antagonists for growth-promoting purposes in farm animals is illegal in the European Union. Despite the use being legal in the U.S., the U.S. brands promote meat from livestock that are not fed with beta antagonists, aiming to reduce the use of growth promoters, and supporting the producers who are voluntarily phasing them out.
Live animal transport and slaughtering
Ahold Delhaize acknowledges that farm animals are especially vulnerable to stress during transport and slaughter. Therefore, we are committed to limiting live long-distance transport of farm animals across all species. Furthermore, it is our aim that animal-based products come from farm animals that have been rendered unconscious and insensible to pain before harvest through effective stunning in a single attempt. To offer all customers a suitable choice, we accept alternative practices for religious slaughter.
Ahold Delhaize understands the significance of antimicrobials in both human and animal medicine and the threat from improper use in livestock supply chains. Some of these antimicrobials are also used in human medicine and, if overused, can lead to increased antimicrobial resistance.
Ahold Delhaize believes that antimicrobials used in animal medicine, when applied responsibly and under veterinarian oversight for treatment of disease or injury, promotes good animal welfare and that antimicrobials should not be used unless the well-being of an animal is endangered. Ahold Delhaize supports the reduced use of antimicrobials medically critical to humans on farm animals.
Ahold Delhaize does not support the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in animal farming, or their use as growth promoters. Our local brands will continue working with their suppliers to responsibly reduce antimicrobial use in animal farming, especially those considered by the World Health Organization to be critically important for human health. Some of our brands offer products from animals that were raised without the use of antibiotics.
We strive to minimize all forms of close confinement that are harmful for animal welfare, e.g. tethering and caging. We do this by collaborating with the industry. Below we have listed information on the global closed confinement approach. Additionally, our local brands have more specific approaches for various farm animals.
1. Cage-free laying hens
Ahold Delhaize brands are making progress in their commitment to phase out the sales of shell-eggs from hens housed in cages. At the end of 2021, almost 40% of own brand shell eggs in Ahold Delhaize brand assortment were cage free.
All U.S. Ahold Delhaize brands have committed to being 100% cage-free for own brand and national brand shell eggs by 2025. European brands Albert Heijn and Delhaize Belgium are already 100% cage-free for their own brand and national brand eggs, for shell eggs and egg-as-ingredient. In addition, all other European Ahold Delhaize brands have committed to being 100% cage-free for own brand and national brand shell eggs by 2025.
Since March 2021, Ahold Delhaize’s joint venture Super Indo, has added cage-free eggs to its assortment in all its stores, supported by a comprehensive customer education campaign to help customers understand the benefits of cage-free eggs. We would use our best commercially reasonable effort to offer 100% own brand cage free shell chicken eggs by 2035, provided there are no limitations in availability, affordability, consumer acceptance and provided that it is aligned with the Government direction as stipulated in the then prevailing laws and regulations obligating us to do so in Indonesia.
We believe the existing and new commitments are the best way to persuade the egg-industry to quickly start making the significant investments needed to go “cage-free”. Our brands will remain in a continuous dialogue with the industry to improve the well-being of hens and make production more sustainable.
2. Gestation-crate-free swine
Ahold Delhaize understands there are several confinement concerns regarding gestation stalls for breeding pigs or sows. Our European brands comply with EU legislation and our local U.S. brands are committed to eliminate the use of gestation stalls by 2025 or sooner.
We strive to minimize all forms of routine mutilations that are harmful for animal welfare, e.g. tail docking, or beak trimming. We do this by collaborating with the industry. Below you will find information on the global closed confinement approach. Our local brands have more specific approaches for many farm animals.