For A Good Tomorrow

ICA Gruppen has set a high bar for its extensive sustainability work, which involves a variety of activities. For structured communication about this work, “För en god morgondag” (For A Good Tomorrow) has been launched, which will help provide a clearer picture of the work being carried out and the most pressing issues.

This is broken down into five defined areas:


We will actively contribute to the local communities where we operate.

The ICA Idea is central to ICA Gruppen’s operations and is based on cooperation combined with local adaptation. This includes a commitment to local matters and needs in the places where the Group operates, in order to be as close to customers as possible, and creating positive development in the communities where ICA Gruppen is active. In both Sweden and the Baltic countries there is substantial and growing demand for locally produced food. ICA Sweden and Rimi Baltic are working in various ways to increase the amount of locally produced food in the product range, as well as to support rural areas and contribute to keeping communities alive.

Examples of activities

Pharmacies providing services for the community

Apotek Hjärtat runs a number of “Minutkliniker” (Minute Clinics), which act as a small healthcare centre next to the pharmacy. The Minute Clinics offer treatment for common illnesses and health problems, as well as health checks and vaccinations.

All the Minute Clinics are directly adjacent to an Apotek Hjärtat pharmacy or Maxi ICA Stormarknad, making life easier for customers and relieving the pressure on traditional health centres.

Using Swedish milk in private label dairy products

In 2016 ICA Sweden began restructuring its dairy range with a view to increasing the percentage of Swedish produce used in all its private label dairy products.

In 2017 a new hard cheese called Folke was launched. Made purely with Swedish milk, it is another way to develop the range of Swedish dairy products. Today more than 80% of ICA Sweden’s dairy products are made using Swedish milk.

Working together for more Swedish products

Since 2014 ICA Sweden has been working with the Federation of Swedish Farmers with the aim of expanding its offering of Swedish products in stores and supporting development and growth in Sweden’s rural areas. This has included working actively on the product range, so that today 85% of ICA Sweden’s beef and nearly 90% of the deli products sold by ICA Sweden as private label products contain Swedish meat.

The partnership has also focused on fruit and vegetables. Among other things, in consultation with ICA Sweden, growers have invested in growing and storage so as to extend the season for Swedish root vegetables by two months – from eight months to ten. This will also enable a greater proportion of Swedish-grown root vegetables to be included in ICA Sweden’s product range. There are also projects to extend the Swedish apple season and to increase the percentage of Swedish-grown apples.

Collaboration with the Red Cross

ICA has had a collaboration with the Red Cross since 1999 and is involved in several initiatives every year, all year round. Today, it is more important than ever that we work together to be able to help more people in need. We want to give back to the people and support all of Sweden.

The Red Cross works to strengthen people and societies, especially in times of crisis. A work that is based on individuals´ involvement in their local community, to meet the specific needs that exist locally.

As of December 2018, ICA has committed to benefit the Swedish Red Cross during the winter period, focusing on three different types of local activities: create places for people to meet, establish breakfast clubs, and engage local health work. All three initiatives have the same goals; to ensure community & solidarity, safety and equal conditions & possibilities for everyone – from north to south.

Fruit becomes juice in acclaimed project

Two years ago ICA Sweden began working with Rescued Fruits, at the time a new start-up in Sweden, which makes juice out of surplus fruit from ICA Sweden’s warehouses and stores. The juice is then sold under the ICA brand Räddad frukt. “We’ve been working with a group of real powerhouses at ICA Sweden who were very understanding of the fact that we were new to the market and did not have the same infra-structure and routines as other suppliers.

Since ICA Sweden saw this as a sustainability project, the focus was also on environmental benefits rather than maximising profit margins. I think that partnerships like this will be increasingly important for innovation and sustainable development in the future,” says Cecilia Larsson, former CEO and founder of Rescued Fruits. In 2017 the collaboration between ICA Sweden and Rescued Fruits was one of the finalists for the Nordic Council Environment Prize.

Developing marketplaces and areas

As well as securing the supply of store premises and other facilities for the Group’s operations, ICA Real Estate works to develop the shopping areas and create meeting places where people can shop, meet up and enjoy themselves. One of the ways this is being done is through the “Goda Grannar” (Good Neighbours) concept. Centred on the ICA store, added value is created for visitors and tenants benefit from each others’ footfall.

Through its active role in local development ICA Real Estate helps create places that meet extra service needs among customers, thereby developing the local area.

Retailers searching for farmers

To expand the locally produced range and increase sales of Swedish food, during the quarter ICA Sweden launched a new ordering portal that facilitates business relations between local vendors and ICA stores. The portal is now accessible for independent ICA retailers and vendors throughout Sweden.


We will minimise our environmental impact, work towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions in our own operations and help our customers make more sustainable choices.

Environmental issues are integrated into day-to-day work in stores, pharmacies, logistics and offices, including environmental certification of sourcing, real estate and logistics operations. Between 2006 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in the Group’s own operations were reduced by 76%, thanks to numerous efforts in the areas of energy, refrigerants and transports. Since 2020, ICA Gruppen’s operations are climate neutral, since all emissions are offset through carbon credits. Read more about ICA Gruppen’s approach to carbon offsetting ›

We are now looking towards 2030, and our target to reach at least net zero emissions. To reach this target, ICA Gruppen will continue working to reduce emissions from our own operations in line with the Paris agreement, and at the same time gradually replace offsetting through carbon credits with measures that balance positive emissions with negative emissions. ICA Gruppen also wants to cut the climate impact from customers’ purchases of groceries in half by 2030 and require suppliers to adopt science-based climate targets.

Examples of activities

Activities to reduce food waste

Food accounts for nearly a quarter of man’s climate impact, but roughly a quarter of all food bought is thrown away rather than being consumed. ICA Gruppen runs a number of initiatives to help reduce avoidable food waste.

One example is the new skin packaging that ICA Sweden introduced during the year for large parts of its meat range. The vacuum packing extends the shelf life of the meat to nearly twice that of traditional packaging. It also holds less air, allowing transport to be further optimised. The packaging also contributes to a natural tenderising process that improves the flavour of the meat. A number of ICA Sweden’s frozen fish products also has this new smart packaging.

Extensive work on reducing the volume of plastic

Numerous initiatives are being carried out in ICA Gruppen to gradually reduce the total volume of plastic used. In May Apotek Hjärtat became the first pharmacy chain in Sweden to charge for plastic bags in order to reduce consumption. A proportion of the proceeds is being donated to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation to finance work on environmental impact and medicines. At the same time, the existing bags made from crude oil were replaced with new, more eco-friendly plastic bags made from sugar cane – a renewable material. Since this started, the use of plastic bags at Apotek Hjärtat has decreased by 44%.

Since 1 July and 1 September, respectively, all plastic and paper bags in ICA Sweden’s central assortment are climate-neutral. When incinerated the plant-based plastic bags produce 85% less fossil CO2 emissions than petroleum-based bags. However, entirely eliminating the carbon footprint is not currently possible, which is why ICA has made the decision to compensate for the remaining CO2 emissions from production and transports through offsets.

At ICA Sweden, extensive work is also being conducted to replace plastic packaging on ICA’s private label products with more sustainable alternatives. Among other things, during the quarter plastic trays and packaging for a number of fruits and vegetables have been replaced with cardboard or plant-based plastic alternatives. In addition, more and more organic fruit and vegetable items are successively being laser-marked as a substitute for plastic wraps or sticker labels.

Labelling guides customers

To help its customers make sustainable choices, ICA Gruppen uses various types of labelling. Hemtex, for example, uses the “Den hållbara tråden” (the Sustainable thread) label for products that give the greatest consideration to man and the environment. Similarly, ICA Sweden uses the “Välj miljösmart” (Smart green choices) label on products.

During the year Apotek Hjärtat introduced the “Välj med Hjärtat” (Choose with Hjärtat) label with environmental and sustainability criteria, initially for OTC medicines. The aim is that this initiative will lead to suppliers switching to a more sustainable pharmaceutical production.

Food waste becomes fish in insect based circular system

In partnership with the Swedish foodtech company Nutrient, ICA Sweden has created a circular system based on insects. ICA will use waste from its production of organic potatoes as food for insects. Through a legislative change that took effect on 1 July 2017, such insects may be used as fish feed, for instance for Arctic char sold under ICA’s private label.

Using insects instead of other fish as feed dramatically relieves the burden on the world’s oceans. Moreover, the insects used are rich in omega 3 and 6.

Climate-smart stores

The largest carbon footprint from ICA Gruppen’s operations is made by stores. To address this, active work is being conducted in the Group with energy efficiency improvement and a gradual changeover to renewable energy and refrigerants with a smaller carbon footprint. Within ICA Real Estate, several projects are being conducted to optimize energy use in the existing property portfolio.

During the quarter two energy projects in stores were concluded. In the Sala project, installations of heating and ventilation systems will result in an estimated reduction in energy consumption by 20%.

The energy project in Bromölla entails a conversion to natural refrigerants with a very low carbon footprint, the phase-out of fossil fuels and a large energy savings programme that will generate estimated savings of 43%. During the quarter new establishment was completed in Moraberg, in which geothermal energy systems was installed. Also during the quarter, a concept and solution for e-vehicle charging posts was rolled out, and work environment and social audits were conducted at construction projects.


We will actively contribute to improved public health by utilising the strength of our organisation.

Helping customers to feel good and inspiring them to adopt a healthy lifestyle are important roles played by ICA Gruppen. With food stores, pharmacies and Minute Clinics, ICA Gruppen is active throughout the area of health – from prevention, care and remedies to guidance and inspiration for healthy living. Through products that address issues concerning additives, allergies, trends and lifestyles, ICA Gruppen can spread information and inspire customers to make conscious choices on a daily basis. This work is always based on official Nordic dietary guidelines and nutritional recommendations.

Examples of activities

Health and exercise initiatives for children

ICA Sweden’s health initiative Buddy with your Body has been running for 16 years. To date, around 940,000 school children have completed the course, in which children learn more about healthy eating with a focus on fruit and vegetables. This year the course material also has a new section on avoidable food waste and how to make more climate-smart eating choices. ICA Sweden is also working in partnership with Generation Pep (GEN-PEP) to help create a popular movement to promote good health among children and young people. GEN-PEP is a non-profit organisation that works to spread knowledge and engage both people and organisations in the area of children’s and young people’s health. It was initiated by the Swedish Crown Princess Couple.

Campaigns to help cancer research

ICA has been supporting Cancerfonden since the 1950s and ICA, together with Apotek Hjärtat, has been principal partners to the Rosa Bandet campaign in Sweden since the start in 2003. Every autumn we help collect money for cancer research, by selling both the pink ribbons and pink goods in our stores.

Everyone can do something, and together we can make a difference. The money that is collected goes to financing research, and to give an extra boost to projects, as well as helping Cancerfonden in their work to give information on cancer. The research makes it possible to decrease the number of cancer patients and helps more people survive cancer.

Free online health checks

To get more people to reflect on their lifestyle Apotek Hjärtat has launched “Hälsokvittot” (Health receipt) – a comprehensive online health check. This free health check is based on the National Board of Health and Welfare’s guidelines and was produced by researchers at Linköping University.

The tests are easy to carry out and provide valuable recommendations that may be of great importance for the individual concerned.

Health initiatives in the Baltic countries

There is great interest in health and wellbeing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and as a leading player in grocery retail, Rimi Baltic wants to contribute to healthy lifestyles in various ways involving both food and drink and regular exercise.

During the year a large number of health-related activities and initiatives were carried out, including in particular the introduction of Choose Healthier labelling – based on the Keyhole criteria – for a large number of more healthy products. In addition, Rimi Baltic has supported a number of sports and exercise initiatives, including the Lattelecom Riga Marathon.

Keen interest in veg recipes

The growing interest in healthy and vegetarian food alternatives can be seen not only in ICA’s sales statistics. Owing to the large offering of vegetarian recipes (more than 2,000 today) offered by ICA, an increase has also been noted in the number of visits to

In the weeks leading up to Easter, searches on were up a full 140% compared with a year ago.

Activities to stimulate fruit consumption

Young people in Sweden eat less fruit and vegetables than the recommended daily consumption of 500 grams. To find new ideas for what ICA can do to get more young people to eat more vegetables, berries and fruit, in August ICA Sweden conducted a workshop – or hackathon – with students from Järvaskolan. The day was split up into different blocks such as problematising, research, and idea generation. The next step in the model is to evaluate the ideas and thereafter to gather the students and pertinent departments in ICA to concretise and bring the ideas to fruition.

Ahead of Halloween ICA Sweden displayed a seasonal range of root vegetables, vegetables and fruits that alluded to Halloween in a playful manner. The aim was to inspire children and teens to eat more vegetables and fruit during a holiday season that is otherwise dominated by candy. Product examples included cauliflower marketed as zombie brains and blue potatoes as spider torsos.


We will enhance our competitiveness by increasing diversity in our operations and making the most of differences.

ICA Gruppen’s emphasis on diversity involves utilising the creativity and added value that comes from the interplay between differences in order to create a dynamic business that offers high quality products and services. Diversity is part of ICA Gruppen’s people strategy and the Group conducts various initiatives to increase its diversity, for example by creating jobs for young people and people with disabilities and by helping newcomers become settled in Sweden.

Examples of activities

ICA Gruppen top-ranked for women leaders

The LEAD Gender Diversity Scorecard is the first survey to chart equality in major European companies in the retail and consumer goods sectors. ICA Gruppen was ranked at the top, with 40% women in senior positions compared with an average of 26%.


Employment for newcomers

ICA Gruppen is taking part in the 100 Club, the Swedish Government’s initiative aimed at providing more jobs for people coming to Sweden. The aim is to tailor a package of measures based on individual companies’ needs that creates new opportunities for the companies to take on at least 100 newcomers over three years.

As part of this initiative, Apotek Hjärtat has an extensive intern scheme in partnership with Arbetsförmedlingen to support pharmacists arriving in Sweden to become qualified here. Apotek Hjärtat also offers positions as assistants and interns at Apotek Hjärtat to trained pharmacists from other countries even before they become registered to practise in Sweden.

Initiatives for young people in the job market

In 2014 ICA Sweden began the ICA 2020 initiative, which aims to utilise and develop opportunities for more young people to work within ICA. The initiative is aimed at people 25 years of age or younger who are far from the job market.

ICA 2020 also aims to make the most of the innovative energy found among young people who already work for ICA, for example through ICA’s young network, which focus on matters relating to the future. Every year 20 young employees from stores, warehouses, offices and pharmacies are given the opportunity to take part in a development programme lasting a few days. In 2017 six students from the Center for Retailing at Stockholm School of Economics also took part. The theme was developing concepts for the retail store of the future. The results of the work were presented to representatives of ICA Sweden’s management.

New initiative to increase equality

One element of increasing diversity is to increase equality among senior managers. ICA Gruppen has a high proportion of women overall, including at middle management level. However, the percentage of women in key senior positions remains relatively low.

To effect change and get more women into senior positions, 2017 saw the start of the ICA 50/50 initiative. This consists of two networks – one for senior women managers, launched in 2017, and one for women with the potential for more senior roles, to be launched in 2018.

Improving terms and opportunities

ICA Gruppen is taking part in Global Deal, a global initiative for social dialogue and better terms in the labour market that was initiated by Sweden’s Prime Minister. The aim is to improve the dialogue between the parties in the labour market and countries’ governments in order to improve terms of employment and productivity.


We will ensure that quality and social responsibility is always guiding our operations and business relationships.

Every product that ICA Gruppen sells must meet the quality standards set by the Group and the world around us. Obviously, the products ICA Gruppen sells must comply with laws regulating, for example, labelling and ingredients. ICA Gruppen’s work on product safety is based on ensuring that all its suppliers have good, safe production processes. This is achieved by suppliers to ICA Gruppen being required to sign the Group’s sourcing agreement, which has a sustainability annex to ensure that the sustainability policy and its guidelines are complied with. 

Examples of activities

ICA Gruppen’s world of suppliers

ICA Gruppen does business all over the world, which means taking responsibility across borders. Continuous monitoring and dialogue ensure that suppliers comply with both social and environmental requirements. Below is a list of where in the world ICA Gruppen is active in the sourcing and production of its corporate brands.
ICA’s world of suppliers

Certification to ensure standards are met

We work in a structured way with tools and models that have been created to ensure that the products we sell and handle meet external and internal requirements and standards. One aspect of this involves certification of sourcing, logistics and store processes to relevant quality and environmental standards. The most important benefit of certification is naturally that our customers and ICA stores can feel secure in the knowledge that our processes comply with the requirements in ICA Gruppen’s policies and guidelines. Read more about ICA Gruppen’s work with certifications ›

Standards and certification ensure quality at pharmacies

The quality system at pharmacies, known as the self-monitoring programme, is regulated by legislation from the Swedish Medical Products Agency (MPA). All pharmacies must have a pharmaceutical manager who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements and who also reports to the MPA if there are serious deficiencies in the operations. In addition, every year an inspection is carried out by the pharmaceutical manager at the pharmacy.

Apotek Hjärtat has quality assurance specialists who conduct regular internal inspections to ensure that its pharmacies maintain a high level of quality and follow the self-monitoring programme. In 2017, 104 (142) internal inspections were conducted.

Countering food fraud

ICA Gruppen is working on several fronts to prevent food fraud, including through quality certificates, analyses and unannounced audits as well as collaboration with others in the industry. The Group is also engaged in a continuous dialogue with the food industry and relevant authorities, and monitors the work of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in this area.

An internal vulnerability analysis in accordance with GFSI requirements has been performed, and the Group has its own action plan to counter food fraud. During the year ICA Sweden conducted 102 analyses focusing on food fraud, mainly relating to the origin of meat. The analyses showed no signs of deliberate fraud.

High standards of animal welfare

Animal welfare is an important issue for ICA Gruppen. Animals must be treated well, protected from un-necessary suffering and kept in an environment that promotes their health and natural behaviours. ICA Sweden sets standards for both Swedish meat and imported meat, for both its private label products and products from other suppliers. All fresh and frozen meat in ICA Sweden’s main product range has been approved following an audit of animal welfare at the respective supplier’s facilities.

Animal welfare audits are carried out for both abattoirs and farms, and there are requirements concerning transport of the animals and how they are handled during slaughter. The audits are carried out either by ICA Sweden’s own quality specialists or by third parties. During the year three audits were performed.

Ethical peas have developed farming in Guatemala

Starting in 2015, in the village of Xetinamit in Guatemala, ICA Sweden ran a project jointly with the Dutch aid organisation IDH and the supplier Nature’s Pride aimed at developing farming and giving people a better future. ICA Sweden donated money to the project for each pack of ICA’s ethically produced peas sold. The project was completed in October this year, with good results. Among other things, production increased as a result of efforts to develop irrigation systems, expand cultivation areas and improve organisation.

A number of activities targeted equality. For example, funds were created for microloans to the women of the village. To improve health, some of the investments were aimed at air and water quality: cooking stoves were installed which channel smoke out of the homes and water -filters were installed to improve the water quality.