Asda gathers suppliers to set out new approach to delivering on its sustainability ambitions

Last month on 20th March, Asda held its annual ESG Supplier conference with over 700 of its supplier partners and growers attending in person or virtually, in which it reaffirmed its commitment to working with suppliers to achieve its sustainability targets. 

Asda’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) programme is a key part of its growth strategy, aiming to offer accessible and affordable solutions for the growing number of customers who want to shop in a healthier and more sustainable way, and developing a more efficient and resilient value chain.  

This message underpinned the forum, and attendees were taken through the key steps along the path to achieving this vision. Included in the conference was the announcement of a new ambition on health: to improve the sales-weighted health score (based on the UK’s nutrient profiling model) of the products Asda sells year on year and new targets to further reduce branded and own brand packaging by 20% by 2030. 

Speakers at the conference, including Kris Comerford, Chief Commercial Officer – Food at Asda, and Sam Dickson, Asda’s VP Commercial Strategy, Own Brand & Operations, reaffirmed Asda’s commitments to net-zero operational carbon emissions by 2040 and to setting a science-based interim target, as well as an existing target to reduce operational food waste by 20% by 2025. 

In addition, a new natural resources strategy was unveiled, focused on improving Asda’s impact on water, biodiversity, and soils in its operations and in the supply chain. 

Suppliers and Asda’s colleagues in attendance were also provided with updates on Asda’s work engaging suppliers in its charitable programmes including Tickled Pink and Children in Need, and a reiteration on Asda’s approach and requirements of suppliers on responsible sourcing and human rights.  

Attendees were also introduced to a new requirement for Asda’s highest impact suppliers, those responsible for supplying products accounting for around 80% of the retailer’s total carbon footprint, to engage with the EcoVadis data-sharing and assessment platform. EcoVadis is a globally recognised assessment platform that rates businesses’ sustainability based on four key categories: environmental impact, labor, and human rights standards, ethics, and procurement practices. By asking suppliers to engage and supply data through EcoVadis, Asda will be able to better understand and integrate suppliers’ ESG and carbon performance into the wider business. To support this requirement, Asda has itself committed to undertaking an EcoVadis assessment. 

Sam Dickson, VP Commercial Strategy, Own Brand & Operations at Asda, said: “We know that customers are becoming increasingly conscious about their shopping habits and that they particularly care about shopping in a more healthy and sustainable way. We want to work with our suppliers to provide more choice to our customers for all budgets and collectively build more resilient and profitable businesses together.” 

Kris Comerford, Chief Commercial Officer – Food at Asda, said: “We recognise that commercial decisions need to work in tandem with our ESG values, as there is no growth in the long term without an understanding of how we grow responsibly and sustainably. This conference is a starting point, and we are going to continue to engage our suppliers and growers on our plans and expectations for sustainable growth.” 

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