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Energy is all around us – and within us. There are different dimensions to it, each one with a power of its own: a nutritious meal can provide the energy to run a marathon; a hug from someone we care about can be the emotional fuel needed to carry on; and a so longed-awaited hot bath is only possible with the use of energy. As something we both get and give, energy can be a perfect representation of circularity. However, if we get too distracted by the great powers that energy offers, we may forget what makes it so precious: it is finite. That’s why energy demands responsibility – on individual, societal, and business levels. 

Paths for the energy transition 

Aware that almost everything in life depends on energy and of the importance of finding effective solutions to the energy transition, the Jerónimo Martins Group and Biedronka organised a sustainability conference in Warsaw, Poland, in November 2023. 

Under the claim “Energy for Life”, the event focused on three main sources of energy that are strategic for our businesses: food, environment, and social connections. More than 400 participants gathered at Kozminski University – the conference was also streamed online – to hear renowned industry speakers discuss healthy eating habits, the diversification of energy sources and its challenges, and the strengthening of social capital in local communities. Dr. Scott W. Tinker, an American geologist and energy expert, was the keynote speaker.  

The event was opened by Pedro Soares dos Santos, Chairman of the Jerónimo Martins Group, followed by Professor Grzegorz Mazurek, Rector of Kozminski University, who pointed out the Group’s caring attitude towards people and the planet. Luis Araújo, CEO of Biedronka, presented Project B, the company’s plan towards a more sustainable development. The plan includes increased investment in social programmes, the installation of charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles all around the country and an increase in the number of stores and distribution centres with photovoltaic panels for self-consumption. 

Read more about Biedronka’s sustainabilty reports  

Nutrition: how the energy from food serves us  

As a food retailer with more than 5,500 stores in three countries, we provide energy through food to more than 5 million customers who visit us every day. Food is the reason we exist as a business and its importance was the theme of the first panel, which gathered speakers like Polish chef Grzegorz Łapanowski and clinical dietitian Wanda Baltaza to answer questions like “how can our diets be more balanced?” or “how can products have a more health-promoting focus?”.  

Food is a mirror of the times we live in. Culinary knowledge is evolving, cooperation between science, gastronomy and industry is developing, and gastronomy itself is already a field of science.

Grzegorz Łapanowski

Chef and author of culinary programmes

According to the experts, satisfaction is a major driver of food consumption, which may be linked to a higher intake of ingredients such as salt. On the other hand, there seems to be an increased interest in colourful and varied foods. So, the challenge is how to promote the consumption of more vegetables and how to associate food pleasure with health.  

Energy transition and the environment 

Decarbonisation and energy transition are key issues on the global energy agenda – and Europe plans to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. To discuss this matter, the second panel featured industry speakers such as Arkadiusz Węglarz, from Warsaw University of Technology, and Malgorzata Grest, Managing Partner of CSR Consulting.  

Energy transition for a cleaner value chain has many boxes to tick, such as reducing packaging, cutting plastic, lowering energy consumption or switching vehicle power systems from fossil to renewable sources. For that to be a reality, renewable energy and how companies effectively align their processes with regulatory requirements will be a key factor for success and competitiveness.  

There are just some things that carbon-based fuels do really well, and it’s very difficult to replace those. Others, we can do it. So, we’ve got to focus our efforts on those things where it’s achievable. 

Scott W. Tinker

Geologist and Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology (UT, Austin) 

Dr. Scott W. Tinker dedicated his lifework to the subject of energy and has a lot to say about it. Don’t miss his conversation with Sara Miranda, Chief Corporate Communications and Responsibility Officer of the Jerónimo Martins Group, on topics like energy transition, the ideal energy mix and Europe’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050

Social energy: the human need for community

As human beings, we have a natural urge to help others, especially in times of need and adversity. The Jerónimo Martins Group, present in three countries so different from each other and with specific social needs, recognises the power of social energy and its responsibility in supporting surrounding communities and in being a benchmark employer for its more than 130,000 employees.  

Katarzyna Scheer, Chairwoman of the Biedronka Foundation, Jurek Owsiak, from WOŚP (The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity), the largest charity organization in Poland, and Dominika Langer-Gniłka (Noble Gift), were amongst the speakers of this panel, which highlighted the challenge of how to maintain consistency in supporting others.  

The sustainability conference co-hosted by Jerónimo Martins and Biedronka was a moment of reflection and discussion about what’s to come. The energy transition is going to be a game changer in the way companies operate and do business – and we are taking decisive steps towards that goal.