Hannaford profits soar: "Due to COVID-19, demand increased significantly"
Posted Mon, 06/22/2020 - 2:44pm
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a mass economic upheaval. But while millions across the country have lost their jobs, and small businesses are facing bankruptcy, Hannaford is seeing its profits soar. In a recent financial statement, Hannaford’s parent company – the multinational supermarket conglomerate Ahold-Delhaize – wrote: “Due to COVID-19, demand … increased significantly,” adding that their stores in the U.S. “experienced approximately 34% comparable sales growth.” Over the last three months, their stock price has risen by over 25%.
And what is Hannaford doing with this COVID-fueled sales growth? Rather than investing in workers, they are enriching shareholders. In the first quarter of this year, Ahold-Delhaize increased dividend payments by nearly 10%, funneling these increased profits to wealthy investors. At the same time, the company used its extra cash to buy back over $400 million of its own stocks, further consolidating profits in the hands of a wealthy few.
And while Hannaford is making money hand over fist, its parent company just released its “Inaugural Human Rights Report.” The report makes bold claims about the company’s commitments to human rights, including in its supply chains, writing “If we find ... serious violations of occupational health and safety regulations, we will suspend our relationship with that supplier.”
Ahold-Delhaize’s human rights commitments should spur action, given the well-documented health and safety violations in Hannaford’s dairy supply chain. As Migrant Justice has shown, farmworkers milking cows for Hannaford-brand milk suffer from astronomical rates of workplace injury and illness, while only 18% report sufficient access to personal protective equipment and just 6% report sufficient training.
Milk with Dignity is the solution to the problems in Hannaford’s dairy supply chain. It is the only program in the dairy industry that creates verifiable protections against human rights abuses, led by farmworkers themselves and backed up by strong enforcement mechanisms. So how can Ahold-Delhaize commit to requiring ethical human rights standards from its suppliers while Hannaford continues ignoring farmworkers’ calls to join Milk with Dignity?
In its recent “Annual General Meeting,” a gathering of company shareholders, Ahold-Delhaize board chair Jan Hommen fielded this very question from Migrant Justice. He responded:
Our local brands in Europe and the U.S. continue to engage with our supply chains and potentially also other stakeholders groups to ensure respect for human rights. As a next step we will review the policies and procedures including our standards of engagement for suppliers related to human rights issues and further strengthen our governance around human rights.
This response provides an opening but it’s not good enough. We need to hold Hannaford accountable to its commitment to a supply chain free from human rights abuses. And this means joining Milk with Dignity.