Food Retailing and Sustainable Development


In late October a book I have been editing with Laure Lavorata was published by Emerald.

This book was conceived at a meeting of researchers from different countries (France, Germany, Poland, Scotland, and Spain) during the EURAM conference in Warsaw in 2015. In proposing, preparing, and delivering a special session on retailing and sustainability, we noted the similarities between countries and retailers. We proposed a book exploring this subject and retailing practices.

The retailing sector is characterized not only by its large scale in terms of outlets, employees, and customers, but also by its numerous large and small suppliers, on which centralized purchasing systems can impose draconian conditions. Such all-powerful retailing (Wal-Mart has c1.8 m employees) gives rise to extensive criticism, relating primarily to environment and health; criticism linked variously to the transportation of the merchandise sold, the need for customers to drive to stores, the waste generated (redundant packaging, plastic bags, non-recyclable, readily perishable products, etc.), modes of production encouraged by suppliers’ management decisions and methods (deforestation,reduction in biodiversity, etc.), among others. In social terms, the sector is critcized for its low wages, poor and sometimes dangerous working conditions, lack of job security and inadequate social welfare cover, restrictions on trades union membership, etc. Retailing and sustainability thus has many dimensions to explore and concepts to consider.

Faced with dwindling resources and the challenge of climate change, companies are seeking to enhance production while consuming fewer resources. At the same time, consumers are altering their behaviors by seeking local production or bulk buying products. Retailers, as boundary spanners between consumers and producers, have a major role in initiating change and sustainable development.


Part one of this book analyzes the sustainable development practices of retailers within and between different European countries and presents case studies that consider best practices on this topic. Retailer include: Carrefour, Casino, Auchan, Leclerc, Intermarché and System U in France; Inditex, Cortefiel and MANGO in Spain; Edeka, Rewe, Schwarz-Group (with Lidl and Kaufland) and Aldi in Germany; and Tesco and Marks & Spencer in UK. International retailers in Poland are considered to better understand cross country activities.

Part two underlines the challenges faced by European retailers in the wake of societal and technological changes. The consumers’ role and their sustainable development practices are analyzed to understand the impact on retailing and the main risks for retailers.

This book will appeal to academics, students and professional educators alike, providing a crucial understanding of retailers’ practices in different countries and their impact on consumers.


Introduction; Laure Lavorata 

PART I: Practices by European Retailers

Chapter 1. French Retailers and Sustainable Development; Laure Lavorata  

Chapter 2. Sustainable Practices in Spanish Retailing; Eugenia Ruiz Molina and Irene Gil 

Chapter 3. Corporate Social Responsibility in the German Food Retailing Industry; Hannah Schramm-Klein 

Chapter 4. Sustainable Development and Food Retailing: UK Examples; Leigh Sparks

Chapter 5. Sustainable Development in the Internet Corporate Communications of Leading Retailers in Poland; Tomasz Domanski

PART II: The Stakes Involved for Retailers

Chapter 6. The Changing Roles of Food Retailing; Leigh Sparks 

Chapter 7. Consumers and Food Waste in France; Laure Lavorata and Ophélie Mugel 

Chapter 8. Retailers’ Commitment to Sustainable Development and Store Brand Equity: A Comparison between Consumers in France and Spain; Eugenia Ruiz Molina and Laure Lavorata 

Chapter 9. Risks, Strategic Options and Prospects for Commercial Distribution Faced with the Challenges of Sustainable Development; Enrico Colla 

Chapter 10. Retailing and Value, Doing the Right Thing by Providing Value; Barry Babin and Kevin James

Further Details and Purchasing Options are available at the Emerald Bookstore.