GLOBAL GROCERY: News and ideas from the world of food retail

From more sustainable stores to smaller more convenient formats, here's a look at what's happening in the industry right now


In July, Lidl opened what it is touting as “the most sustainable supermarket in the Netherlands.” Located in the green Almere Oosterwold district, east of Amsterdam, the store is the first CO2 and energy neutral supermarket in the country. Lidl Zero Almere Oosterwold was constructed using sustainable and circular materials—for instance, the wood used in the outer wall was processed using the Japanese shou-sugi-ban technique that makes the wood last longer and require less maintenance. Even the employees’ old uniform shirts were processed to make the building’s insulation. The sustainable grocery store also features solar panels, free charging stations for electric cars and bikes, and the store’s goods are supplied by an electric truck with a fully electric cooling system.


In the U.K., Asda is rolling out its refill zones to more of its stores. Asda first introduced refill zones at its Middleton “Sustainability Store” in Leeds last October; that trial was so successful, says the retailer, that several products in the zone outstripped packaged sales and customers travelled from outside the local area to shop more sustainably. This October, Asda will open its largest refill store in York, which will feature 18 standalone bays featuring more than 70 branded (from Kellogg, Tilda rice, Unilever, Nestlé, etc.) and private-label products ranging from cereals, tea, pasta, cleaning products and pet food, all in refillable format. “Our ultimate goal is to make refill and reuse a part of every Asda shopping trip,” says Susan Thomas, the retailer’s director of commercial sustainability in a post on its website. “And to achieve this we have to make it easy, accessible and affordable for all our customers to shop this way.”

Photo credit: Kyle Ford at Corporate Pixel


German discount retailer Aldi debuted, in July, what it calls a “super convenient” new format Down Under. Located in North Sydney, Aldi Corner Store is a departure from the retailer’s other stores in that it is a smaller-format, urban concept, complete with coffee shop Sonoma (a Sydney-based artisan cafe), a juice bar and an interior enhanced with the work of a local street artist. At just over 10,000 sq. ft., ALDI Corner Store serves up a reduced assortment but emphasizes local goods and convenience. ALDI’s foray into the smaller-format space follows that of its Australian rivals Coles (with its Local stores) and Woolworths (with its Metro stores).


Amazon is continuing its brick-and-mortar grocery push with the opening of its 15th Amazon Fresh store in the United States. The Washington D.C. store, which opened in July, features the Just Walk Out technology that made waves when first introduced at the Amazon Go store in 2018. Amazon has also taken the cashierless format across the pond, opening six Amazon Fresh stores in the United Kingdom this year. How long before Amazon Fresh lands in Canada?


Over the last few years, Lifvs container grocery shops have been popping up in rural villages bereft of traditional grocery stores. To keep costs down, the shops are unattended and customers access them by creating a profile on a mobile app which they use to unlock the door, scan barcodes as they shop and also pay for their purchases. There are more than 20 Lifvs stores in Sweden, which are open 24/7, and a click-and-collect service with lockers was recently introduced to add convenience. According to Lifvs, the shops have “everything you need in places where it’s needed most.”


This article appeared in Canadian Grocer's August 2021 issue.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds