A Responsible Retailer
Iceland has always been a responsible retailer, committed to providing safe, healthy and ethically sourced food. In the 1980s and 1990s, we led the whole of the British food retailing industry in eliminating artificial colours and flavours from our products. We also respect the environment and seek to put something back into the communities where we operate by regenerating high streets, creating jobs, providing outstanding customer service and giving generous support to a range of good causes helping the sick and socially disadvantaged.
Good Food - Always
At the heart of the Iceland brand range is frozen food. Our “Because It’s Frozen” wheel demonstrates the eight key advantages that frozen food can offer consumers and the environment:
Quality. Freezing is Nature’s pause button: an entirely natural process that allows us to capture products in their peak condition as soon as they are picked, caught or made. Freezing locks in the nutrients which “fresh” products begin to lose as soon as they are harvested. Academic studies have demonstrated that frozen fruit and vegetables, in particular, typically contain more vitamins and anti-oxidants than “fresh” ones that have spent days in the supply chain. Frozen fish really is fresher than “fresh” fish that has either spent days making its way to the supermarket or, more typically, has been frozen at sea and then defrosted for sale as “fresh” at a premium price. Rapid commercial blast freezing produces a vastly superior result to anything consumers can achieve by freezing fresh products at home, hence the much longer shelf life it can offer.
Taste. Freezing locks in flavour, and we have proven in blind taste tests over many years that very people few can detect any difference in eating quality between fresh and frozen food right across our product range.
Choice. We can offer food from all round the world without the high environmental costs involved in, for example, airfreighting fresh produce. We can offer seasonal food all year round, and a truly amazing range encompassing everything from kale, asparagus, couscous, quinoa and bulgur wheat to ostrich, lobster, cod loins, sea bass and Dover sole.
Provenance. Because it’s frozen, we can give our customers food from authentic, trusted sources – for example, the genuine Italian pizzas made for us by a family business in the foothills of the Dolomites, using real mozzarella cheese and other authentic local ingredients. We can also provide a full range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, harvested when they are at their best and most abundant, all year round.
Convenience. Frozen food is always available and easy to prepare with no washing, peeling or chopping involved. No waste, no mess, no fuss.
Less waste. Frozen food is intrinsically less wasteful than fresh food because it has a much longer shelf life. This minimises waste in our stores and supply chain, and in our customers’ homes. Consumers also cut waste because they can use just as much as they need for each meal, and put the rest of the pack back in the freezer for another occasion. Because frozen vegetables are usually peeled, chopped or diced ready for use, we can avoid the waste caused by the quest for perfect-looking vegetables in fresh displays.
Health. Frozen food is every bit as good for you as fresh food. What’s more, freezing minimises the need for artificial preservatives and other additives used to prolong the shelf life of “fresh” products. Back in the late 1990s we ran a joint promotion with the Cancer Research Campaign specifically to promote the health benefits to children of eating more frozen vegetables. Freezing has also been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of food poisoning from campylobacter in chicken.
Value. Frozen food is intrinsically cheaper to produce than fresh food because everything can be frozen when it is most abundant, production runs are long and efficient, and waste is reduced. All these economies are shared with the consumer.
We are very proud that, as long ago as 1986, Iceland became the first UK supermarket to remove artificial colours, flavourings and non-essential preservatives from our own brand products – 19 years before Marks & Spencer. Also in 1986, Iceland became the first UK supermarket to remove monosodium glutamate (MSG) from our own brand products. We banned mechanically recovered meat from all Iceland brand products in 1990, and in 1998 we became the first national food retailer anywhere in the world to ban genetically modified ingredients from all our own brand products: a commitment which every other major UK retailer then followed. We removed hydrogenated fats (manmade trans fats) from all Iceland brand products in 2006.
Iceland suppliers are actively seeking to remove palm oil as an ingredient from Iceland own brand products where this is viable, and replace it with a lower saturated fat alternative. Where palm oil is still used we request that suppliers support sustainable palm oil production and seek supplies from RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified sources as these become commercially available.
Quality and value
The benchmark for every Iceland brand product is simple: it must offer better quality than the equivalent line sold by our major British supermarket competitors, at the same price, or comparable quality at a significantly lower price. Our independent benchmarking teams regularly assess products according to a range of criteria to ensure that our high standards are being maintained.
All Iceland brand products are sourced from approved suppliers at approved sites. All our suppliers must comply with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Food Standard; they are regularly audited by independent inspectors against this standard and required to achieve Grade A or B. From January 2016 this BRC audit will be unannounced. Sites are also approved by our team of product technologists, who have a passionate concern for food quality and safety.
In 2014 Iceland introduced a further independent audit of all meat, poultry and fish sites. This audit reviews raw material and traceability controls, to ensure adherence to our stringent Iceland product specifications.
Additionally, Iceland has a set of Technical Policies with which all our own brand suppliers must comply.
The importance we attach to constant innovation has helped us to build close, long term relationships with a range of specialist supplier partners who work with us at the cutting edge of new product development. Our own technologists supervise the first production run of any new product, and our quality assurance systems include regular checks of products against our specification when they are delivered to our depots, and assessments of their performance in our own test kitchen.
Honesty and clarity
All Iceland brand products are clearly labelled on the back of our packs with a full and honest list of our ingredients, and information on their nutritional value. Our Iceland brand products are traded internationally, across many EU and non-EU countries, and we have delayed the introduction of voluntary front of pack nutritional labelling, using the UK recommended “traffic light” scheme, until concerns raised in Europe about the legality of the scheme have been satisfactorily resolved.
We encourage healthy eating and provide full nutrition information panels to help our customers plan their diet each day. Where possible, we also label our fruit and vegetables with a ‘5 A Day’ logo, to remind our customers of the importance of consuming these as part of a healthy diet, and aim to provide an at-a-glance guide to the number of portions contained in each pack. We gave our full support to the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal on Fruit and Vegetables in November 2012, designed to help people consume their ‘5 A Day’, and pledged to offer coupon deals on fruit and vegetables, increase their promotion to our customers using new website and social media features, and to introduce new fruit and vegetable products.
Full information about allergies is provided on our packs, and our policy is outlined here
Working with Government to promote public health
Iceland is an official partner of the UK Government's Public Health Responsibility Deal and has committed to the following Pledges:
• Removing Artificial Trans Fats
• Fruit and Vegetable Promotion
• Tackling Under-Age Alcohol Sales
• Responsible Advertising and Marketing of Alcohol
• Promoting Physical Activity Guidelines
• Reporting Health and Well-Being
• Healthier Staff Restaurants
Full details of the Pledges can be accessed via the Department of Health's
Website at http://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk/
Caring about animal welfare
Iceland brand products adhere to a strict animal welfare policy. We work with our suppliers to ensure high standards of animal welfare based on the Five Freedoms endorsed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Iceland fully supports the introduction and daily management of CCTV in stunning and slaughter areas (and shackling areas in the case of poultry) to ensure adherence to animal welfare standards. CCTV must be monitored on a very regular basis by personnel who have been trained in accordance with the relevant Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations (WASK) and the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations (WATOK). Any legal animal welfare breaches must be highlighted immediately to the Iceland Technical Manager.
All animals and poultry used for the production of Iceland brand products must be stunned before slaughter, and the stunning methods used must be compliant with those laid down in EU Directive 119/1993. This means that prior to slaughter animals must be stunned so that they are immediately rendered unconscious and maintained in that state until death.
Iceland is committed to the principles of sustainability in seafood sourcing, and we have a Fish and Seafood Sustainability and Welfare Policy for our Iceland brand suppliers to address this issue.
All suppliers of Iceland brand products must have a written Fish Sustainability Policy which is mirrored in their procurement policies and product specifications. This must outline how full traceability of all raw materials is in place and routinely verified. Additionally, checks must be in place for all raw material supplies to ensure that the fish has been caught within the legal parameters and quota management criteria. Measures must be in place to avoid over-fishing or depletion of exploited populations.
For sea-caught fish, in addition to legal quota management controls, all fish must be scientifically assessed as being caught within sustainable limits. A risk assessment must be undertaken to identify the environmental impact of the fishing, and species must be managed in accordance with key scientific indices, with practical measures taken to maintain breeding populations which are capable of sustaining or growing the current population. The fishing methods used must be the most selective available to minimise by-catch and the risk to marine mammals. We do our utmost to discourage the capture of fish just prior to or during their breeding seasons.
Suppliers of Iceland brand farmed fish must have a documented Fish Welfare Policy and Environmental Management System for farms, which are routinely audited. Key measures include ensuring the appropriate siting of all open cage sea farms, which should have been subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment; verifying that all feed is sourced from sustainable, well-managed stocks; and ensuring that suppliers adhere to appropriate maximum stocking densities. Farms are also required to adopt the Farm Animal Welfare Council “Five Freedoms”, outlined above.
All Iceland farmed prawns are sourced from sustainably managed farms that comply with standards for mangrove protection and conservation, and address issues of habitat destruction, by-catch from wild capture, and chemical usage.
Responsible about alcohol
Most of our stores in Great Britain are licensed but this is a minor part of our offer: we are not a destination shop for alcohol. As a service to our customers, we carry a limited range of beers, wines and spirits which are usually stocked close to our tills, under the visual supervision of our cashiers. This is supported by CCTV monitoring in the majority of our stores as an additional protection against under-age alcohol browsing and theft.
Under the licensing regulations in England and Wales, each store manager undertakes training to the Government-recognised Level 2 licensing qualification provided by the British Institute of Innkeeping, and is licensed by the appropriate local authority as our Designated Premises Supervisor. It is our policy to train two other members of staff in each store to the same standard, ensuring that a fully qualified person is present on the premises at all times.
Similarly rigorous training is undertaken by the managers and staff of our Scottish stores to meet the requirements of the licensing regulations in Scotland.
All members of our store staff are given training on the sale of alcohol as part of their induction programme, and this training is refreshed every six months.
At the point of sale we operate a strict “Challenge 25” policy, requiring any customer who appears to be under the age of 25 to produce appropriate proof of their age and identity: a driving licence, passport or a card from another Government-approved scheme. We keep a log in our stores of people who have been challenged and refused service, and this is open to inspection by the Trading Standards and licensing authorities. Any failure by our staff to comply with company policies on the sale of alcohol is treated as a most serious disciplinary matter.
Iceland has signed up to and submitted pledge delivery plans under the Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal for tackling under-age alcohol sales and the responsible advertising and marketing of alcohol.
Protecting our environment
Iceland respects the environment. and has active programmes to reduce its energy demand, maximise the use of environmentally friendly gases and cut waste.Our efforts to reduce our environmental impact are co-ordinated by a cross-functional team, working closely with external partners including WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and the British Retail Consortium Environmental Policy Action Group.
Reducing our carbon footprint
In March 2010 Iceland was officially certified as having attained the Carbon Trust Standard, after achieving a 15% reduction in carbon emissions relative to turnover over the three year assessment period, and an absolute reduction in emissions of 2%. Building on this success, we had achieved an absolute reduction in carbon emissions of 8% by 2015.
Our ongoing asset replacement programme is achieving like-for-like reductions in energy consumption by chillers and freezers of 25 – 30% per unit.
We have invested £8 million in replacing our sales floor lighting systems throughout our estate with LEDs, which are delivering a 50% reduction in our lighting costs.
Iceland always specifies equipment and components that operate with the minimum of power, ensuring where possible that equipment is selected from the Government’s “Energy Technology List”. We have installed smart control systems in all of our stores which monitor and control energy consumption in lighting, refrigeration and process cooling at equipment level, enabling us quickly to identify any wastage and ensure prompt remedial action.
We installed motion sensor lighting to avoid wastefully lighting unoccupied rooms at our head office in Deeside several years ago, and continue to introduce LED technology throughout the facility.
We have a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) with DEFRA covering all our distribution centres, under which we committed to achieve a cut in energy consumption of 12% in these sites by March 2013. This was achieved and the CCA was further extended by three years to 2016.
Our heavy goods vehicle fleet is regularly renewed with the aim of maximising fuel economy and minimising emissions. Our policy is to replace vehicles after five years’ service and all our new trucks meet the Euro 6 standard, which is the highest for minimising vehicle emissions. Speed limiters are set to 53mph to conserve energy and auto shutdown mechanisms are fitted to trucks if their engines are left idling for more than three minutes. Telematics is fitted to all vehicles to monitor driving styles, to ensure that they are driven in the safest and most economical manner. New legislation introduced in November 2015 has led to the introduction of advanced emergency braking and lane departure warning safety features, which are fitted as standard to our new heavy goods vehicles. New build trailers are fitted with aerodynamic corner cappings and vortex generators to the rear of the roof, which reduces fuel consumption.
Iceland has also consistently adopted forward-thinking policies aimed at minimising the environmental impact of refrigerants through careful selection of appropriate materials and the thorough maintenance of equipment. In 1989 we built one of the first plants to recycle CFCs, and established a free recovery and recycling service to remove CFCs from our customers’ old appliances. Since 1994 all of our warehouse developments have used climate-friendly ammonia as their exclusive refrigerant, and this is now used exclusively in all our RDCs. In 1998 we launched the Kyoto range of eco-friendly domestic fridges and freezers, uniquely endorsed by Greenpeace. In 1999 we became the first UK retailer to open a store using only natural refrigerants comprising CO2 remote frozen and HC water chillers for chilled cabinet cooling. Our equipment replacement policy focuses on the use of environmentally friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants in our store equipment, wherever legislation allows us to do so.
Minimising waste and promoting recycling
Among the key advantages of frozen food is the fact that it is easy to keep and easy to use: there is no mess, no waste and no fuss. This offers significant environmental advantages compared with fresh and chilled food, where waste is endemic. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that up to a third of the food bought in the UK ends up being thrown away.
Research by Sheffield Hallam University, published in July 2014, confirmed that British families could cut their food waste by almost 50 per cent by including more frozen food in their meal planning, and also achieve savings of around £250 per household per year.
Our policy requires that all Iceland brand packaging is minimal. Our suppliers are encouraged to reduce the weight and size of packaging as far as possible, while ensuring that the product is not damaged in transit and is able to retain its full shelf life. The longer shelf life of frozen food, and the fact that it is stored in the freezer until used, means that it creates less waste packaging than fresh and chilled products.
Wherever possible we use packaging that can be recycled by our customers: 85% of our packaging materials can currently be recycled by local councils, and we are working hard to improve this even further. Many of our packaging suppliers re-use waste packaging by processing it into other materials like bin bags to complete the recycling circle.
We work very closely with all our suppliers to minimise the amount of waste food Iceland generates. Products are only designated as waste when they have passed their use-by dates and are considered unfit for human consumption. We utilise secure storage areas and / or locked waste bins to dispose of such products because allowing them to be consumed by members of the public would constitute a significant health and safety risk. We segregate plastic, cardboard and food waste for recycling and send only general domestic waste to landfill. Our policy is to ensure that food waste is ultimately disposed of through an environmentally friendly process of anaerobic digestion.
Each of our four distribution depots is set up to maximise the opportunities for recycling, and each has a recycle centre specifically set up for this purpose. There is also a back haul system in operation to ensure that all outer cardboard cases and plastic shrink-wrap are returned from our stores to be collated with card and plastic from the distribution centres, for recycling.
At our head office we collect and recycle paper, cardboard and printer toner cartridges; shrinkwrap and cardboard from our test kitchen; and cans and polybottles from our staff restaurant.
Reducing carrier bag waste and supporting good causes
Re-usable carrier bags have long been available and heavily promoted in all our stores. We also support efforts to reduce the use of single-use carrier bags on environmental grounds, while ensuring that revenues from those that continue to be sold are applied to a good cause where they can make a real difference to humanity.
Since 1 October 2011 our stores in Wales have charged the 5p levy on single-use carrier bags introduced by the Welsh Government. During the first six months alone we achieved a reduction in carrier bag usage of approximately 77 per cent but still sold a total of 3,341,103 bags, raising £139,277 for charity. In our financial year to March 2013 we have raised £282,383 and in the financial year to March 2014 a further £267,044; the bulk of the money raised up to this date was donated to Alzheimer's Research UK to support world-class dementia research in Wales. During our financial year to March 2015 we raised £264,743, which was principally used to support the work in Wales of The Royal British Legion. Since the beginning of our 2015/16 financial year we have been raising money to support the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation’s current partners - the Children’s Food Trust, National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) and When You Wish Upon A Star - and will also be supporting the University College London (UCL) Dementia Challenge, which aims to find a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025.
Our stores in Northern Ireland have levied a 5p charge for carrier bags since this was introduced in April 2013, and we had raised a total of £394,472 by the end of our 2014/15 financial year. All monies raised have been donated to local environmental projects, as the legislation demands.
Scotland introduced a 5p carrier bag charge in October 2014 and by the end of our financial year in March 2015 we had raised a total of £191,301. As in Wales, we are supporting Iceland’s children’s charity partners and the UCL Dementia Challenge
With the introduction of a 5p charge for single-use carrier bags in England from 5 October 2015, all our stores in all parts of the UK are now raising money for good causes through carrier bag sales. While we expect the introduction of the charge to lead to a substantial reduction in carrier bag usage, as the Government intends, it will still generate a great deal of additional money for good causes and it is our intention to focus this in a way that could make a life-changing difference to our customers and the wider public. Accordingly all funds raised in England (excluding VAT) will be donated to the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation to help create a new, world class Dementia Research Centre at UCL in London. Also supported by other retailers including Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose, this important initiative [add link to press release of 5 October] aims to meet the G8 Group challenge, following a lead from David Cameron, to find a cure for dementia by 2025.
Against commercial whaling
Iceland is a long term supporter of the campaign to ban whaling and we were very public in our refusal to buy prawns from Norway for many years as a protest against their involvement in whaling. We remain strong supporters of the cause and in 2007 we wrote to the Icelandic Prime Minister reaffirming our opposition to commercial whaling and to whale support groups expressing our support for their cause.
For more information on whaling and how you can help please visit www.campaign-whale.org
Supporting our communities
Iceland has a presence in over 860 communities throughout the UK, typically on the high street. During our financial year to March 2010 we opened more than 70 new stores, 50 of which were converted from redundant Woolworths outlets. This not only created more than 2,500 new jobs, but also played a major part in helping to regenerate high streets and communities throughout the country. In the five subsequent financial years we added a further 133 net new stores and created more than 4,500 additional jobs.
We aim to create a real family atmosphere in our stores, with a commitment to helpful, friendly service that extends into our customers’ homes through our unique home delivery service. This is especially valued by families without access to a car for shopping, and by the elderly.
All our 23,500 employees have the opportunity to participate in voluntary charitable activities during working hours without loss of pay.
In 2005 Iceland adopted the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as its principal charity, and raised £3 million for this excellent cause over the next four years.
In 2010, to mark the 40th anniversary of Iceland, we established the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation to put even greater impetus behind our fundraising initiatives, and to allow a more flexible approach in the allocation of our support to deserving causes.
In 2010/11 our Charity of the Year was Help for Heroes, which provides practical, direct support to members of the armed forces wounded in the service of their country. Our staff, customers and suppliers were inspired to raise a record £1.5 million for this great cause during the year.
For three years to 2013/14 our principal charity partner was Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK), for which we raised £3.1 million throug the efforts of our colleagues throughout the business and major challenges including the Iceland Everest Expedition of 2011 and the Iceland Antarctic Expedition of 2012.
In 2014/15 we marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War by launching a new charity partnership with The Royal British Legion, for which we met our pledge to raise £1 million. This was devoted principally to supporting the Legion’s Battle Back Centre, which helps injured service personnel back to work through participation in sports and outdoor activities; and its Poppy Calls handy van service which helps veterans and their dependents in their homes.
In the financial year 2015/16 we are supporting three great children’s charities: The Children’s Food Trust, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) and When You Wish Upon A Star, and further information can be found here.
At our Charity Golf Day in September 2015 we were proud to announce that we have pledged to raise £1 million over the next four years for the new Defence & National Rehabilitation Centre now being constructed at Stanford Hall in Nottinghamshire.
In October 2015 we announced that we would be donating the proceeds of the new single-use carrier bag charge in England to help fund the construction of a new, world class, state of the art Dementia Research Institute at UCL in London. We were delighted that Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose joined us in the public launch of this initiative, and the chief executives of all four companies have written to the UK’s other food retailers appealing to them to lend their support. Iceland has pledged all the revenues (excluding VAT) from the sale of single-use carrier bags in England for at least the next three years, with the aim of contributing £10 million to the £350 million project.
In the financial year 2015/16 we are supporting three great children’s charities: The Children’s Food Trust, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) and When You Wish Upon A Star, and further information can be found here.
Iceland is also a long-standing supporter of other charitiess including Prostate Cancer UK, to which we have donated more than £760,000 since 2008, Vision4Children, and a range of local good causes nominated to the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation by our store teams around the country. Further information on Iceland’s charitable giving can be found on the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation website.
Caring for people
A Great Place to Work
At Iceland, although we believe that business should be fun, we can be serious: Serious about Staff, Serious about Service and Serious about Standards. These core values underpin everything we do to communicate with our people, respond to their views and recognise and reward outstanding performance.
Our commitment to making Iceland A Great Place to Work has been independently recognised by the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ survey, which has ranked Iceland among the top ten Best Big Companies To Work For in the UK in each of the last five years and twice named Number One, in 2012 and 2014.
Best Companies has ranked Iceland Number One for employees feeling that they have a Fair Deal in each of the last four years (2015 score: 68%) and we also achieve high ratings for Wellbeing, eadership, having a strong sense of family in our teams and for making work fun. Fuller details can be found in the A Great Place To Work section of this website.
Setting high standards
Iceland sources products from around the world to ensure tremendous value for our customers – but without compromising on the high standards they are entitled to expect from our brand. All overseas suppliers are rigorously monitored to ensure that they comply with internationally recognised standards to protect the health and welfare of their employees.
In the UK, Iceland is a signatory to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) standard, and has worked closely with the GLA since it was established in 2005 to stamp out worker exploitation and rogue gangmasters and agency providers in the agriculture and shellfish industries. Iceland has contributed to the revised GLA Supermarket protocol and has communicated it to its suppliers.