As a large grocery retailer, a key way in which we strive for greater sustainability across our business is through the sourcing of our products. That’s why we’re fully committed to ensuring that our buying power is driving positive change for producers, communities and the environment as a whole, both in Northern Ireland and further afield.
After all, sourcing responsibly means we can offer you goods that are produced to the highest quality, environmental and social standards – allowing you to choose sustainably sourced options at affordable prices.
“At Lidl, we provide top quality and market leading value but also we ensure our products are ethically sourced. We are committed to ambitious sustainability targets in a variety of product categories. This won’t be achieved overnight but we want to share our journey with you.”
– J.P. Scally, Managing Director
Local Sourcing & Organic Farming
We take pride in building long-term relationships with our suppliers based in Ireland and Northern Ireland, these home-grown partnerships provide long-term growth for both sides. Since entering the market in 1999, the proportion of our purchases from local suppliers has grown year-on-year. In Northern Ireland we buy millions worth of goods annually from over 50 suppliers. We also support many of these suppliers to export to Lidl’s European stores.
Our range of organic products is ever increasing. Our organic farmers and producers adhere to legislative requirements in relation to organic production as well as our own strict internal standards. Organic standards rely on farming practices designed to minimise the impact on the environment, ensuring the agricultural system operates as naturally as possible. Approximately 220 organic products are sold in our stores annually, in our food and non-food ranges. This includes own-brand, branded, seasonal and textile products.
Fruit & Vegetables
We offer a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, where 37% are sourced locally and to extremely high-quality standards. 100% of our fruit and vegetable are certified to the Bord Bia Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme (SHAS) and/or certified to the GLOBALG.A.P. Fruit and Vegetable standard.
Where possible we source locally but seasonality impacts this and to offer our customers a diverse range of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round we also need to source further afield.
One such item sourced outside Ireland is the Banana which through its farming provides employment to millions of people in developing countries worldwide and is a major source of income. However, workers in this industry often suffer from poor working conditions, low wages and exposure to harmful chemicals. We are pleased to announce that 100% of our banana range now comes from farms certified to Fairtrade, Organic or Rainforest Alliance standards.
Lidl is developing the first biodiversity focused standard for conventional fruit and vegetable producers. The new standard will be developed as a GLOBALG.A.P. add-on module. Learn more about this exciting project below.
Aware of our customer’s wellbeing, we published a health and nutrition policy outlining our strategy for reducing the sugar and salt content in our own-brand products in response to “Healthy Ireland” – an Irish government led initiative.
Sugar: We will reduce the added sugar content in own brand products by 20% by the end of 2020, focusing primarily on foods that are popular with and consumed by children. Food categories such as breakfast cereals, spreads, sauces and sweet confectionery will be a major focus. We will be reviewing approximately 350 own brand products in order to reach this sugar target.
Salt: We will reduce the salt content of own-brand products in line with the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) 2017 salt targets by the end of 2020. The reduction of salt first focuses on food categories that are consumed on a regular basis and generally make up a large share of the daily salt intake including; ready meals, soups, pizzas, crisps, cakes and meat products. Over 500 of Lidl Northern Ireland’s own brand products will be reviewed to reach this salt target.
We are also enhancing our product range and adapting it to address alternative diets such as vegan options and catering for intolerances such as lactose or gluten. For more details on our health and nutrition targets as well as our quality and safety processes please download the Health and Nutrition Policy.
Did you know that palm oil is used in a wide variety of products, from margarine and chocolate to ice-cream, soaps and cosmetics? Why is palm oil so popular? Aside from the great cooking and natural preservation properties, it is also the highest yielding vegetable crop in the world.
However, the cultivation of palm oil can lead to deforestation which has many negative effects on local communities, biodiversity and protected species. In an attempt to combat this, we support the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) who have developed a set of environmental and social standards for the sustainable production of this commodity and the protection of worker’s rights. We are in the process of minimising palm oil in our products where possible and working closely with our suppliers to make sure it is certified to RSPO standards.
Our Commitments and Progress
In terms of using palm oil, 100% of our products are certified to the RSPO Palm Oil standard. While our minimum requirement is mass balance RSPO certified palm oil, we are working with our suppliers to ensure they are moving to segregated palm oil.
Cocoa farmers face many challenges in the production of our favourite sweet treat. Although prices for cocoa are rising as a result of higher demand, many farmers and growers do not reap the benefits of this. As well as dealing with unfair pay and poor living and working conditions they must also attempt to tackle environmental issues affecting their crops. That’s why we’re committed to supporting internationally recognised organisations in the cultivation of sustainable cocoa.
100% of the cocoa used in our own-brand products is certified to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic– that’s everything from our chocolate bars to the cocoa powder used in our chocolate mini-muffins. We will work closely with our suppliers, both in Northern Ireland and abroad, to ensure that we maintain this target.
Want to learn more about our commitment to sustainable cocoa? Click below to learn more about our Super Fairtrade Hero Product Way To Go!
Tea is probably the country’s best-loved drink but for the millions of workers producing tea the world over, pressure is mounting from large, global companies to produce even more tea on top of the issues they already face, such as poor working conditions, housing, education and healthcare.
Our Commitment and Progress
We are committed to supporting tea growers and sourcing our produce from sustainable and certified sources. We are committed to certifying 100% of our own-brand black, green and Rooibos tea to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic. So far, we have reached 95% certification.
Each of these standard-setting organisations focus on topics that are important in the production of tea such as promoting good environmental practices and tackling social issues by helping to improve the welfare of those working and living in tea producing communities.
Coffee continues to be one of the most rapidly evolving markets in the food and beverage industry. However, producers are operating in an increasingly challenging environment. Climate change is leading to rising temperatures and new rainfall patterns, the result is increased volatility in crop yields, creating price fluctuations and unreliable incomes. We’re committed to working with organisations such as Fairtrade, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance to protect workers, their communities and the environment to ensure that they can continue to sustainably produce ingredients for one of the world’s most consumed beverages.
Our Commitment and Progress
By the end of 2020, 100% of our own-brand coffee will be certified to Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance standards and/or certified as organic. So far, we have reached 60% of the certification. It’s important to remember that production of coffee beans is very labour intensive and sustainable production cannot happen overnight if farmers are to keep up with the demand for this commodity.
Currently, we offer a wide range of organic and free-range egg products in each of our stores. By 2025, we will source not only cage-free hen eggs, but we will use only cage-free eggs as ingredients in all our own-brand products. We are committed to working with our current supplier base on the sustainable production of eggs by transitioning towards barn, free-range and organic production methods. Animal welfare is a priority for us, and we work closely with our suppliers to ensure that they can meet our strict audit standards and targets.
Currently 50% of eggs sold in our stores are cage-free. We are committed to working with our current supplier base on the sustainable production of eggs by transitioning towards cage-free barns, free-range and organic production methods.
Fish & Seafood
We recognise our role in protecting and preserving the world’s marine ecosystems and safeguarding fish stocks for the future. For this reason, we have developed a buying policy in conjunction with our suppliers and relevant organisations to support the principles of sustainable fishing and aquaculture, and to guarantee a traceable and transparent supply chain.
We are committed to sourcing 100% of our own-brand permanent chilled and frozen fish products, from independently certified sustainable fisheries by the end of 2019 (MSC or recognised Irish FIP’s for wild caught fish and ASC or GLOBAL G.A.P. Aquaculture Standard for farmed fish). We also commit to maintain the responsible sourcing standards for our tuna, and keep offering only tuna that has been sourced using either ‘pole and line’ fishing method; Fish Aggregation Devise (FAD)-free fishing practices or is MSC certified.
In December 2014, Lidl became the first food retailer to take part in the Greenpeace Detox Campaign. The purpose was to remove potentially harmful substances from the production of its own brand’s textiles and shoes.
By championing safe, environmentally responsible production methods in our supply chains, we aim to support wider systemic change. By switching to more recyclable materials, we are helping to create a circular economy and by investing in ecological, resource-efficient fibre innovation, we are supporting more sustainable consumption.
The following report outlines Lidl’s strategy and milestones within the campaign but also goals for continually working to improve the social and environmental conditions in the textile and shoe production industry.
To learn more about our work protecting the human rights of textile workers visit our Human Rights section here.
Timber and Wood-Based Products
Timber and wood-based products come from forests, the world’s largest and most important ecosystem.
Unfortunately, many forest are under threat of deforestation and degradation from forest fires, unsustainable logging for timber, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development. At Lidl, we want to ensure that our timber and wood-based articles, viscose fibres and packaging are sourced responsibly. Our goal is to ensure we minimise our environmental and social impact by sourcing from sustainably managed woods, certified labels and from recycled materials.
- By 2020 all our own-brand wood and paper-based products will be from either recycled wood fibre sources or FSC or PEFC certified sources
- By 2020 all our own-brand textiles that contain viscose will be LENZING ECOVERO and EU Eco label certified
- By 2025, we aim to source all primary, secondary and tertiary packaging from either FSC, PEFC and/or recycled sources
Plants and Flowers
Ireland’s climate provides ideal growing conditions for a large range of garden and landscape plants, however the flowers and plants industry is global. Most of the plants come from the Netherlands and from countries where climate conditions are more favourable for growing all year around such as Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya and Ethiopia.
We want our buying power to drive positive change for producers, communities and the environment. We work with internationally recognised certifications to ensure that our products are produced with best practices ethically and environmentally.
- By 2020, we commit to source 100% of our flowers and plants certified to environmental (GLOBAL.G.A.P, Bord Bia’s Onamental Standard, BOOP) and to social standards (Fairtrade, GLOBAL.G.A.P Grasp module, SA 8000).