October 16, 2023 - During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ahold Delhaize and its brands recognize the many contributions Hispanic Americans have made to the culture and achievements of the United States. As food retailers, each of our U.S. brands celebrate Hispanic American’s incredible culinary traditions and continues to work with suppliers to offer customers authentic products from all over Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and South and Central America. This month is also a time to reflect on the important role Hispanic Americans play within each of our Ahold Delhaize U.S. brands and the communities each of them serves.
We recently spoke to Johanna Maldonado, Hispanic American and Stop & Shop associate since 1999, whose passion for diversity and inclusion led her to her role as the brand’s new Director of DE&I. She shared with us what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her and how diversity leads to big wins for both Stop & Shop and its customers and communities.
Johanna said Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on inclusivity and recognize the major impacts Hispanic and Latinx people have had in the U.S. and across the world. “This month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the culture’s aspects – the traditions, the food and the language. It’s also an important time to learn more about what barriers Hispanic Americans have overcome and what challenges remain.”
At Stop & Shop, a big part of celebrating culture revolves around food, and this month gives the brand the opportunity to spotlight products from Hispanic-owned vendor partners. Johanna said that they’ve found storytelling is a powerful way to do this. “Being able to share real success stories about Hispanic businesspeople with our customers and our associates encourages everyone to believe in themselves, especially those from groups of people who may have had to overcome barriers.” She said Stop & Shop is also taking the opportunity this month to strengthen its commitment to its supplier partners, for example, by welcoming Hispanic vendors Tajin and Tropical Cheese to the support office for a sampling event. “They were able to talk with and educate associates. Associates were able to try – and enjoy! – cuisine from a culture they may not have been familiar with.”
Johanna is a huge proponent of supplier diversity. “It brings fresh perspectives, ideas and innovations to the table. And the bottom line is that the more you diversify your offering, the more you are able to meet the needs of the communities you serve. Our customers are diverse, and they expect to see diverse products on the shelves that help to feed the important moments in their lives.”
She said that Stop & Shop aims to do business with diverse vendors of all sizes, and that working with local vendors helps the brand provide the flavor profiles customers are looking for. “We hear excitement from our vendor partners when they get to share their experiences and their culture with our associates and customers. They are able to share their stories and bring their culture to life for people who don’t typically experience those cultures.”
This is why Stop & Shop created its new Global Markets, so customers can find all their multicultural favorite products in one place instead of having to make multiple stops at different grocers. “For each Global Market, the team spends a great deal of time exploring the local community, learning about the demographics and developing relationships with local partners.” Not only is she excited about the Hispanic owned partnerships another one of her favorite wins so far was when they brought in local hot sauce brand “Oh Shito!” – which is based in the Bronx and uses ingredients from Ghana. “The vendor partner is able to sell their delicious product, it helps our business, and our West African customer base is sharing rave reviews – it has been a win for everyone.”