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Corporate Responsiblity

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

Pure food

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.

Safe and healthy food

At the core of the Iceland brand range is frozen food. Freezing is an entirely natural process which does not require the use of any preservatives. It also seals in freshness, ensuring the retention of vitamins and minerals that may be lost during the harvesting, transport and storage of fresh products. Scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated that frozen fruit and vegetables often contain higher levels of vitamins than the equivalent products sold as ‘fresh’ at premium prices. Similarly, freezing at sea captures the taste, texture and nutritional value of fish and seafood as it is caught.

For more information on these and other advantages of frozen food, see

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, which must meet the British Retail Consortium (BRC)’s exacting Global Standard for Food Safety. We supplement the BRC’s site assessments with audits by our own food technologists, who have a passionate concern for food quality and safety.

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.  We warmly welcomed the Government’s announcement in October 2012 of a standardised system of front of pack hybrid traffic light food labelling, and are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that it is adopted across the Iceland brand range as quickly as possible.

We encourage healthy eating and provide full nutrition information panels to help our customers plan their diet each day. 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

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:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

All UK based meat suppliers who supply Iceland brand meat products and use UK based slaughterhouses have confirmed to us that their slaughterhouses have CCTV cameras installed in the stunning and slaughter (and shackling in the case of poultry) areas.  Our suppliers have also confirmed that footage from the cameras is monitored either independently or by departmental management and security.

Seeking sustainability

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.  Our efforts to reduce our environmental impact are co-ordinated by a cross-functional team, working closely with external partners including the Carbon Trust, WRAP 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%. This has been further reduced to date, with a real term absolute year on year decrease of 2.5%.

Some of the successful environmental projects that enabled Iceland to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard include the installation of more energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning equipment in our stores, and the replacement of energy-intensive remote refrigeration equipment with integral line freezers complete with lids to limit warm air ingress. 

We have developed a new control strategy for our store heating and air conditioning requirements, designed to ensure that we never waste energy by heating and cooling the same area at the same time.  The new system also optimises efficiency by establishing separate day and night temperature settings within our stores; this maximises the intake of fresh air while the stores are closed, which also improves the efficiency of our in-store equipment.

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 a robust monitoring and targeting system that collects half hourly data at all our stores to identify areas of electricity waste. Where the need is identified, stores are surveyed by our own internal energy management team and energy saving projects undertaken. These include lighting control upgrades using passive infrared sensors and photocells, capital replacement of old, inefficient plant and equipment, and the introduction of enhanced Building Management System (BMS) solutions.

During 2011 Iceland invested in excess of £3 million in energy saving projects including Voltage Optimisation and High Efficiency lighting. These projects are already showing improvements which have further reduced our stores’ carbon footprint by over 5% in those stores targeted.

We have set high energy efficiency specifications for all of our new stores opened since 2009, which are achieving energy consumption 10-15% below our estate average.

At our head office in Deeside we have installed motion sensor lighting to avoid wastefully lighting unoccupied rooms, and introduced LED technology where appropriate.

We have a Climate Change Agreement 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. Following our success in this scheme we are currently in the process of extending the Agreement by a further three years.

Our 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 5 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. We are undertaking trials of trailers with aerodynamic side kits to improve efficiency.

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.

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.

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.

Iceland signed up to Phase 1 of the Courtauld Commitment on packaging and food waste reduction in 2005, working with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), and achieved the objectives of designing out packaging waste growth by 2008 and delivering an absolute reduction in packaging growth by 2010, despite the substantial increase in our sales due to our store expansion programme. More recently we have appointed Your Packaging Partner (part of Sun Branding Solutions) to carry out packaging and cost reduction analysis across all our own label products and implement changes where an opportunity is identified.

Re-usable carrier bags are available in all our stores and are heavily promoted, while we no longer stock heavy gauge freezer bags.

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 following six months we sold a total of 3,341,103 bags, representing a reduction in carrier bag usage of approximately 77 per cent, and raiseda total of £139,277.02for charity. We donated this to our Charity of the Year, Alzheimer’s Research UK, to support world-class dementia research in Wales.

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.  All outer shrinkwrap is collected from each pallet delivered to Iceland by our suppliers, and collated for recycling.  There is also a back haul system in operation to ensure that all outer cardboard cases are returned from our stores to the distribution centres, where they are collated 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.

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

Supporting our communities

Iceland has a presence in over 780 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 two subsequent financial years we added a further 29 net new stores and created more than 2,000 additional jobs. During 2012/13 we will open 36 new stores, creating around 1,000 more new jobs, and plan to open an even higher number next year as we continue to expand our store estate across the UK.

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 24,000 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 Imagine Appeal 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.

In 2011/12 our Charity of the Year was Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK), for which we raised more than £1.2 million through the Iceland Everest Expedition and the efforts of our colleagues throughout the business. In 2012/13 the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation again principally supported Alzheimer’s Research UK, with a target of raising a further £1 million for research into this dreadful disease. We have chosen ARUK as our lead charity for a third year in 2013/14.

In 2012/13 the Foundation also supported Walking With The Wounded, which organises inspirational expeditions to demonstrate the fortitude and bravery of those wounded in the service of our country, and works in partnership with expert organisations to support the re-education and re-training of injured service men and women. In November 2012 our Chairman & Chief Executive Malcolm Walker joined In The Footsteps of Legends: The Iceland Antarctic Expedition, alongside three wounded soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards. The team completed a gruelling 140 mile unsupported trek across the Antarctic to the Geographic South Pole to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK and Walking With The Wounded.

We will also continue our long-standing support for other good causes including Prostate Cancer UK, to which we have donated more than £525,000 over the last five years, and Save The Family. Further information on Iceland’s charitable giving can be found on the Good Causes section of this site.

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 ranked Iceland the Number One Best Big Company to Work For in the UK in 2012 and Number Two in 2013. Iceland climbed up the Best Companies league table from sixth place in 2011, 13th in 2010 and 14th in 2009, when the company was assessed for the first time. Iceland is the only national food retailer to feature in the league table.

Both the 2012 and 2013 surveys ranked Iceland Number One for employees feeling that they have a Fair Deal (2013 score: 76%) and for Wellbeing (69%) while 77% feel that there is a strong sense of family in their teams and 83% that their colleagues are fun to work with. Confidence in the leadership skills of the senior management team was reflected in a 77% positive rating, while on the Sunday Times reported in 2013 that “Iceland employees are the happiest in our survey about their pay relative to people in similar jobs elsewhere (76%).”

These excellent results mirror the findings of our most recent Straight Talk staff survey, in March 2012, in which 93% of our retail employees told us that they are proud to work for Iceland, 90% feel a strong sense of belonging in the company, 93% enjoy the work they do, 95% consider that their manager treats them fairly and with respect, and 94% would recommend Iceland as a good place to work.

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.

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