In past blogs I have highlighted some of the global-local dynamics that impact Maine, including the NESTLE – Poland Spring Water connection and the foreign ownership of our energy grid under Canada’s Emera and Spain’s AVANGRID Inc., owner of Central Maine Power Company. Recently, in my Global Business class we centered on another “Glocal” case that is worth talking about since it caught many of my students by surprise. We discovered that the Hannaford supermarket, an iconic brand in Maine and a strong supporter of buying local, is not an American company but a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize group.
One of the key strategies of Multinational Enterprises (MNE) as they expand business globally is to balance the global-local impacts in accordance to the culture of the market they are penetrating. In the case of the United States, a very nationalist and local-driven consumer culture, the trick is to maintain the idea of “local” once the domestic company has been purchased or taken over by the foreign competitor. The Ahold Delhaize group has been very effective at preserving the idea of “local” among the communities across the United States where they operate.
It was surprising to know that the group not only owns Hannaford. They also owns Food Lion, Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York, Giant Carlisle, Martin’s Food Markets, Giant Landover, Peapod, and bfresh. Not only that, but one of its global competitors, the German-based ALDI, owns hundreds of other supermarkets across the United States. This German company with regional headquarters in Batavia, Illinois, controls more than “1,600 stores across 35 states and employs “over 25,000 people.”
Using a different strategic organizational model, Ahold Delhaize manages its different brands regionally as in the case of Hannaford, whose headquarters are located in Scarborough, Maine. Although they break up their markets regionally in order to better target the local consumer, their vision is national and global. In the United States they employ “more than 210,000” people and operate more than “2,000” stores from “Georgia to Maine.”
Ahold Delhaize operates across Europe and in the United States and has joint ventures in Portugal and Indonesia, while ALDI has a presence across Europe, the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and China. These are some of the biggest global players in the supermarket industry.
As a customer, I wanted to take a closer look at Hannaford because we do not know much about the global corporations that impact us locally. We tend to live in a fabricated reality, constructed by our internal propaganda systems and cultural dynamics that impede us from clearly understanding and realizing that at this point in time we are engulfed in the cyclone of globalization, and that no matter how nationalist the political rhetoric sounds it is almost impossible to abandon the current trend. For policy makers at the federal, state, and local level it is best to continue helping the MNE construct the idea of “local” than to sincerely accept that our market, like most other markets of the world, are controlled by the decisions of transnational corporations and not the decisions of elected officials.
This is not a criticism toward Hannaford, on the contrary I am convinced that Ahold Delhaize does things right, manages their global operations effectively, and that their global-local strategy is successful at convincing the consumer that they are doing business with a local stakeholder when in reality profits shift back to the Netherlands. What I am concerned about is the lack of public awareness, the limited comprehension of the consumer regarding globalization and the impact it has domestically. We tend not to ask ourselves where does our food come from? We tend not to question where all the stuff we consume comes from. It is naïve for us to think that we still live in a localized market when in reality we live in a global market system of which we depend heavily on. Even the local small business around the corner is impacted directly or indirectly.
In general, we think as a culture, that globalization is far from impacting us locally. We tend to look at this as a foreign phenomenon, a China problem or an emerging nation problem. As we concluded in our class, consumers in emerging nations are less naïve then us about globalization because they have experienced first-hand the impacts throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We tend to think that our MNE impose these dynamics on other nations but we do not pause and reflect on the fact that we see these same dynamics unfolding in our own backyard.
The capacity to sustain employment in markets like the U.S. allow them to build strong alliances with local and federal political stakeholders whose careers depend on low unemployment and long-term market stability. Companies like Hannaford build alliances with local suppliers and help sustain local communities because it is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility; part of their global business strategy. Besides supporting the local community, they donate millions of “rescue food” meals, donate thousands of dollars to charity from reusable bags, and brand themselves as “green.” It is their strategy to construct the idea of “local” when in reality they are “global.” Just like Poland Spring, AVANGRID, and Emera they represent the realities of the current globalized market system.
 For more information see Ahold Delhaize’s cite at; Ahold Delhaize. Accessed January 10, 2018. https://www.aholddelhaize.com/en/home/.
 In other foreign markets the strategy is to market yourself as global or foreign, responding to that particular market’s culture of weighing favorably foreign over domestic.
 For more information see; “All Facts About Our Stores in the U.S.,” Ahold Delhaize. Accessed January 10, 2018. https://www.aholddelhaize.com/en/home/.
 See company history; https://corporate.aldi.us/en/aldi-history/.
 For more information on their U.S. operations see; https://www.aholddelhaize.com/en/about-us/where-we-operate/united-states/.