Interview with Åsa Domeij, Head of Sustainability
In ten years Axfood will be an even stronger driver of sustainability in the food industry. Axfood will always be a step ahead and drive issues to create the right conditions for the industry, says Åsa Domeij, Axfood’s Head of Sustainability.
Axfood’s goal is to be the industry leader in sustainability. Where will we stand in ten years?
In ten years I believe we will be an even stronger driver of sustainability in the food industry. We want to guide politicians, business actors and, of course, consumers towards more sustainable choices in grocery stores. Today many people want to choose sustainable products, but find it hard. We need to help them here, for example with new, clear certifications – even for products in the lower price classes.
We must also be better and following up the sustainability requirements we put on our suppliers. Finally, will be working more closely with primary production. In this area Axfood can serve as a guarantor of good and sustainable food, so that farmers will dare to invest in sustainable production.
What is Axfood doing to achieve its sustainability targets?
We will continue to challenge ourselves and invest in new solutions at the same time that we maintain a long-term perspective in all matters concerning food produced with care. We are not jumping on short-term trends, but stand for what we believe in.
Axfood must always be a step ahead and drive issues to create the right conditions for the industry. We are facing many challenges, and we cannot tackle these on our own. This requires that we remain receptive and that we work together with other actors, as well as the ability to put high demands on our cooperation partners.
What distinguishes Axfood with respect to sustainable development?
Above all we are a group with a strong owner in Axel Johnson AB. Our owners push us to continuously develop, and because of this we dare to do more. Moreover, we have a structure that gives our initiatives great impact, from Axfood AB out to the various chains. Our store chains and brands can drive their own issues towards their target groups, such as Willys and sustainable discount products, at the same time that Axfood stands for strategy and overall perspective.
What achievements are you most proud of during your years as Head of Sustainability at Axfood?
Axfood was early out with a far-reaching environmental policy for fish. Already back in 2008 we adopted our seafood policy – to not sell fish and shellfish from threatened stocks, and to give priority to green-listed and ecolabelled fish. We also incorporate sustainability issues early in our purchasing process, and we have a rigorous Code of Conduct. Moreover, we are a driver of political advocacy work and succeeded in getting the government to back away from a tax on solar panel systems. I am proud of this.
Finally, what advice do you have for more sustainable food consumption?
I have three solid tips:
- Buy more vegetable-based foods – for example, delicious and attractively priced legumes, which are highly nutritional and filling
- Don’t throw food in the trash. Many product taste fine even after their best-before date
- Choose sustainability-certified products, such as KRAV, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade.
Åsa Domeij is Head of Sustainability at Axfood. She obtained her education as an agronomist and served previously as head of environmental issues in Swedish parliament for the Environmental Party. Read about Åsa’s reflections on current events surrounding good and sustainable food in the Head of Sustainability’s environmental blog.