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Ahold Delhaize USA holds the top spot in the U.S. food and staples retail sector index of the 2021 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

The food retailer formally announced the achievement on Monday after executives at parent Ahold Delhaize, based in Zaandam, the Netherlands, said last week at the company’s Investor Day event that both its U.S. and European retail businesses earned the No. 1 designation on the index for 2021 in food and staples retailing.

The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index includes company leaders in global sustainability as identified by S&P Global via the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). The index represents the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index based on long-term economic, environmental and social criteria.

Ahold Delhaize USA encompasses the Stop & Shop, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Food Lion and Hannaford supermarket chains plus online grocer FreshDirect, e-commerce arm Peapod Digital Labs, distribution subsidiary ADUSA Supply Chain, and support services unit Retail Business Services.

“It’s an honor for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. businesses to again be recognized for their leadership in the health and sustainability space,” Brittni Furrow, vice president of health and sustainability for Ahold Delhaize USA. “Each of the U.S. businesses deeply understands the interconnectedness between the health of our planet and the health of families in the local communities they serve and are committed to continuing to take measurable actions to drive positive sustainability outcomes.”

Ahold Delhaize

Ahold Delhaize’s core sustainability efforts center on de-carbonization of operations, waste reduction, and support of farmers and suppliers in their environmental programs.

Just over a week ago, Ahold Delhaize USA said it was joining other Ahold Delhaize companies around the globe in committing to net-zero carbon emissions across operations by 2040 (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) and to becoming a net-zero business across the entire supply chain, products and services no later than 2050 (Scope 3 emissions). Previously, Ahold Delhaize and its U.S. brands have worked toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The new target date follows an update of the companys health and sustainability goals in February.

“As food retailers, we recognize that our role in the food supply chain comes with great responsibility,” Furrow added. “That’s why each of the U.S. businesses have committed to these goals — to hold ourselves accountable to the customers we serve and our world. By doing so, we believe we can make a real and positive impact on local communities and future generations.”

During the virtual Investor Day event on Nov. 15, Ahold Delhaize President and CEO Frans Muller said the company learned of the No. 1 Dow Jones Sustainability index rating for its U.S. and European business over the weekend. He noted that the global retailer’s sustainability efforts focus on “three big tracks”: de-carbonization of operations, targeting the “1.5°C future” to limit the impact of global warming; waste reduction, to move to a circular economy with respect to products and packaging; support of farmers and suppliers in their sustainability programs.

“I believe elevating health and sustainability benefits all the people we touch. It benefits customers, it benefits associates, and it benefits the local communities,” Muller told analysts at Investor Day. “We are very proud to further align and deepen our commitment to being the industry-leading healthy and sustainable retailer,” he added. “We will embed healthy and sustainable further into our short-term and long-term incentive plans and other business metrics. And we will report on them just as we do on our financial metrics.”