Asda lorry

Asda has announced a new commitment to improve the health of its products and also told its major suppliers they must sign up to new commitments on packaging reduction and carbon emissions.

The retailer made the pledges at a gathering of more than 700 suppliers yesterday, with the move following its call for the government to introduce mandatory targets for the food and drink industry.

Asda has also told its “highest impact” suppliers they must sign up to a new data platform that will measure their carbon emissions, treatment of workers, and procurement ethics.

Chief commercial officer Kris Comerford called on suppliers to help Asda hit a new target for health based on the government’s nutrient profiling model.

Asda has committed to improve the average health score of its sales year on year, with new metrics based on a sales-weighted score, though it stopped short of a specific target for reduction.

Comerford called on suppliers to engage with Asda in giving their products an NPM score and looking at opportunities for reformulation and innovation.

Asda is piloting a series of measures with nudge charity Nesta, which will trial ways of making its lineup healthier.

As well as health, Asda is demanding big strides from suppliers to improve their environmental impact. These include new targets to further reduce branded and own-label packaging by 20% by 2030.

It is also calling for much greater transparency from its supply chain.

The supermarket said there would be a requirement to engage with the EcoVadis data sharing platform, which would apply to suppliers responsible for around 80% of its carbon footprint.

It is the latest in a series of moves by supermarkets asking suppliers to make commitments of transparency over their environmental impact.

EcoVadis is a global platform backed by partners including Astorg, BlackRock, CVC Growth Partners and General Atlantic. It alread reports data on more than 1,000 companies across different sectors. The company was recently valued at more than $1bn.

Asda suppliers will be rated on their businesses’ sustainability based on four key categories: environmental impact, labour and human rights standards, ethics, and procurement practices.

Asda said by asking suppliers to engage and supply data through EcoVadis, it would be able to better understand and integrate suppliers’ ESG and carbon performance into the wider business.

In order to support this requirement, Asda had also committed to undertaking an EcoVadis assessment.

The supermarket said this week’s event was about reaffirming its commitment to working with suppliers to achieve its sustainability targets.

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.

“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,” said Comerford.

“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.”