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Dutch retailer Albert Heijn trials ‘true price’ scheme to show consumers social and environmental cost of products

young woman with glasses smiling
3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Albert Heijn coffee pricing list with reusable coffee cups

Image credit: Albert Heijn

Supermarket chain Albert Heijn has introduced a ‘true price’ initiative at some of its stores in the Netherlands, to raise awareness of social and environmental costs attached to food and drink, and to see if it influences shopping habits.

When customers buy a cup of coffee at any three of the supermarket’s ‘to go’ stores in Groningen, Wageningen or Zaandam, they will be able to see the retail price as well as the ‘true price’ – which includes the added social and environmental costs of the drink.

According to the organisation True Price, which Albert Heijn partnered with to run the experiment, added costs could take into account how the CO2 emissions, consumption of raw materials, labour conditions or water usage have been impacted by producing a cup of coffee.

The true pricing will not only apply to plain black coffee in these stores, but also to milk. For example, if a customer buys a cappuccino containing cow’s milk, they will have to pay a higher price than for one made with oat milk, due to its higher carbon footprint.

Marit van Egmond, CEO of Albert Heijn said in a statement: “Based on our mission ‘Making better food accessible together. For everyone.’ we want to help our customers make healthy and sustainable choices easily. We do this by informing them well and giving them the opportunity to make more sustainable choices. True price is one of the ways in which this can be done and that is why we embrace this idea.”

All coffee sold at Albert Heijn’s ‘to go’ branches comes from Rainforest Alliance certified coffee plantations, according to the retailer. If customers are willing to pay the true price of their coffee instead of the retail price, Albert Heijn says it will invest the extra money in Rainforest Alliance improvement projects in the coffee supply chain.

Michel Scholte, co-founder and executive director of organisation True Price, added: “We are pleased that Albert Heijn propagates true pricing. In addition to what Albert Heijn is already doing together with customers, suppliers and partners, true pricing can lead to even more targeted supply chain sustainability so that the bill is not passed on to the most vulnerable or future generations.”

Besides Albert Heijn, the only other food retailer where True Price’s initiative is currently being trialled is the organic supermarket De Aanzet in Amsterdam.

The supermarket has made other efforts more recently to encourage customers to make more sustainable consumption habits. Last year for example the retailer pledged to make over half of its produce plant-based by 2030.

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