Auchan aims for partnerships with local suppliers

René Grosbusch, Anne-Sophie Steichen and Goy Grosbusch work with Auchan Luxembourg, represented here by Marc Gueuzurian (left). (Photo: Paperjam)

René Grosbusch, Anne-Sophie Steichen and Goy Grosbusch work with Auchan Luxembourg, represented here by Marc Gueuzurian (left). (Photo: Paperjam)

Marking 25 years in Luxembourg, French supermarket Auchan wants to grow its partnerships with local suppliers, visiting two of them during a recent tour of producers delivering to the chain. 

It's no secret that local products have been on the rise lately. The spring 2020 lockdown may have accentuated the phenomenon, but it is still quite visible today. "In Luxembourg, there is a greater integration of local products than in France, for example," says Pierre Besson, head of the self-service food supply at Auchan Retail.

The retailer has therefore decided to make an exception to its Tour de France of local producers by stopping in the grand duchy last week. "We try to have as many Luxembourg products as possible,” says Marc Gueuzurian, manager of the Auchan in Kirchberg. This autumn, the store is celebrating its 25th anniversary, during which time its range has evolved to adapt to local specificities.

Responsible suppliers

Grosbusch has been a long-standing partner for 23 years. "Auchan has understood that it is necessary to constantly review the range," says Goy Grosbusch, managing director of the family business. The company makes two deliveries a day for Auchan, and sometimes three during the festive season. "Flexibility is the strength of our partnership," says Grosbusch.

Since the end of the 1990s, the store has also been working with the Kleinbettingen mill. Customers can find the flours of the Luxembourg family business on the shelves, but also in the bakery, since most of the breads produced in Auchan's workshops are made from wheat ground on the Belgium-Luxembourg border.

More recently, the partnership between Auchan and the Naturschutz Fleesch cooperative began in 2020. On their farm in Weiler-la-Tour, the Steichen family raises Angus cattle according to sustainable farming principles. The 100 cattle live outdoors all year round, are not fattened up and only receive hay in winter. "We work together with nature," says Anne-Sophie Steichen, a member of the farm.

The animals, which are all born in Luxembourg, are slaughtered after 30 to 34 months, as opposed to 18 months in the conventional system. "This produces meat of exceptional quality," adds the young woman, whose farm delivers one animal a week to Auchan.

In 2014, the French retailer developed a “filière responsable"--responsible supply chain--label to highlight these local partnerships not only on its domestic market, but also in Luxembourg.

"The label ‘filière responsable' is in line with our specifications,” says Marc Godefroid, commercial director of Boulangerie aux Moulins de Kleinbettingen. Together with the Angus cattle breeder, the company represents two of Auchan's Luxembourg responsible suppliers. In total, more than 100 Auchan supply chains are integrated in Luxembourg, according to the company. It has 350 types of these "chain" products on its shelves. "Our desire is to continue and accelerate their development,” says Sophie Morlé, spokesperson for Auchan Luxembourg.

The price matches the products. "We market products that are often not the cheapest, but which have a superior taste,” says Grosbusch.

Other obstacles to the local food trend remain. First of all, the supply is not scalable. Grosbusch, for example, works with 14 local producers, five of which are certified organic. Secondly, it is impossible to produce everything in Luxembourg. The fish section is still dependent on imports, for example.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.