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We look at how Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn is making its private label chocolate traceable, while Carrefour Poland forms a coalition to promote organic farming.

Albert Heijn invests in traceability

Albert Heijn has partnered with Switzerland-based chocolate maker Barry Callebaut to make its private label chocolate traceable. The partnership reflects the growing interest in ethical sourcing, with both companies suggesting the buying raising industry standards. The companies have said the sourcing will provide a living income for farmers.

From March 2019, Albert Heijn will source cocoa for its private label ‘Delicata’ from Tony's Chocolonely's partner cooperatives in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The cocoa will be based on the five sourcing principles of Tony’s ‘open chain’, which helps to achieve a transparent supply chain. Jeroen Hirdes, who is responsible for chocolate sourcing at Albert Heijn, explained, “The new Delicata chocolate will have the yellow-orange label with the open chain Tony's uses to indicate to consumers it was sourced sustainably”.

Carrefour Poland forms coalition

Carrefour Poland has formed a coalition with the EKOLAN association, the Polish Chamber of Organic Food and Warsaw University of Life Sciences. It has been named ‘the coalition for the development of the bio-food market’ and will promote organic farming across Poland.

Christophe Rabatel, president of Carrefour Poland, commented, “As a member of the coalition, Carrefour wants to support farmers through direct cooperation, our know-how, logistics and extensive infrastructure of almost 900 stores. We will also continue to educate Polish clients in the field of healthy nutrition”.

Research has shown organic farming in Poland is declining, with only 500,000 hectares of land being used. However, the demand for organic food is high and largely met through imports. Rabatel added, “Today's consumer is more and more aware of the impact of nutrition on health, and our mission is to offer him the products he or she is looking for and needs”.

Dutch retailer Albert Heijn is opening a new distribution centre in Zaandam, with a high level of automation from goods receipt through to loading. It demonstrates how leading businesses are quickly looking to make use of new technology for a more flexible fulfilment network, as we have outlined in our recent Supply Chains For Growth research.

Albert Heijn, part of the global Ahold Delhaize group, is the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, with over 2,000 stores in the country. The announcement follows on from the recent partnership between Takeoff Technologies and Ahold Delhaize in the US.

The new DC takes advantage of new automation technology so that almost all products can be handled in the mechanised systems, including a range of different temperatures and shelf lives. Albert Heijn says that the new DC will:

  • Create 50% more capacity to enable continued growth and improved availability
  • Load orders for stores more efficiently, reducing the number of trucks needed
  • Improve work for colleagues, with less lifting in the DC and easier replenishment in store.

On arrival, pallets are scanned and stowed in a high-rise storage area with space for 9000 pallets. From there they are taken to the “defoil area”, where the pallet wrap is removed and the products are given a final check by a warehouse operator. It goes into a depalletisation area, in which the products are removed from the pallet in layers by automated systems and decanted into trays. The trays are sent into a huge storage area via part of the 8.5km network of conveyor belts.

When the products are needed to send to store, the systems determine a stacking profile for each cage depending on weight, dimensions and the layout of the store it is being sent to. The cages are loaded by robots as efficiently as possible, so more product is loaded on each truck. Autoguided vehicles load the cages on the trucks, and at the store, employees can unload and replenish the shelves more quickly.

Watch this video to discover more about the distribution centre:

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Ahold Delhaize held its Capital Markets Day on 13th November, and confirmed that it is the latest business to link with Takeoff Technologies to create new micro-fulfilment centres (MFCs).

Source: TakeOff Technologies

Enabling omnichannel growth

JJ Fleeman, President of Peapod Digital Labs, described a plan to expand the availability of Click and Collect to over 600 stores by 2019, and a vision to ensure that 65% of US customers have access to same-day delivery by the end of 2020.

In a video played during the presentation, Ahold Delhaize said: “We’re automating assortments tailored to local tastes, enabling customers to receive the freshest products in as little as an hour from facilities right in their local stores or nearby locations, that leverage existing real estate and reduce last-mile delivery costs.”

Advantages of micro-fulfilment

The presentation confirmed some of the key advantages offered by such facilities, including proximity to customers to reduce delivery times and costs, high levels of productivity, low capital costs and short build time. Ahold Delhaize said they would build such facilities either within existing stores or as standalone units.

Source: Ahold Delhaize

Growth of micro-fulfilment

This announcement comes hot on the heels of Takeoff’s recent link-ups with Albertsons and Sedano’s in the US, and CommonSense Robotics’ first openings in Israel. We believe this type of facility offers retailers a flexible way to enhance their ecommerce and omnichannel offerings, a key feature of future supply chains.

For more on the role of fulfilment in these future supply chains, head to our newly-released Supply Chains for Growth report.

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