Royal Ahold (NYSE: AHO), the international food retail and foodservice company, today announced its Thai supermarket operation TOPS has joined forces with two renowned academic institutions to extend its food supply chain project in the country. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed at the TOPS corporate office, fostering cooperation in agri-supply chain management training between CRC Ahold Company Limited, Kasetsart University of Bangkok and the Wageningen School of Management, the prominent agricultural university in The Netherlands.

The MoU calls for the three parties to establish a seven-week training course on agri-supply chain management at Kasetsart University between September and November 2001. The partners will jointly develop a tailor-made curriculum covering all aspects of supply chain management, from food safety to logistics and cost accounting. Attending the course will be managers from the Thai and international business community, relevant policy making institutes and ministries, and other stakeholders in the food and agri-industry. Course lecturers will be drawn from Kasetsart, Wageningen and CRC Ahold as well as other international players in the agri-supply chain in Thailand. In addition, a revolving fund has been set up that enables the program to be repeated and to explore other fields for cooperation.

As part of its commitment to food safety, TOPS established "World Fresh" in 1998 to position itself as the leader in fresh food processing and distribution. This state-of-the-art fresh distribution center is at the heart of Ahold's commitment to further enhance agri-supply chain management in Thailand, and is regarded by key players in the industry as the standard-bearer for fresh food processing. The major objective of the new management-training course, which is fully in line with TOPS' World Fresh strategy, is to boost knowledge levels and awareness of agri-supply chain principles. It builds on TOPS' mission to further enhance the safety, quality and freshness of food sold to increasingly discerning and knowledgeable local customers in its 40 stores throughout Thailand.

TOPS has embarked on an agri-supply chain project with 40 local farmers and suppliers of fruit and vegetables to minimize pesticide use, accelerate the supply chain and improve agri-practice nationwide. These farmers and produce suppliers have consistently adhered to stringent certification standards in recent years. TOPS has developed incentives to optimize use of pesticide in crop production and to improve quality assurance, and by the end of 2001, the number of farmers and suppliers having attained certification by the Thai Department of Agriculture (DoA) is expected to have risen to 60.

Other partners providing funding and management time for this agri-supply chain project are the Dutch Embassy in Thailand, the DoA, the KLICT, a Dutch organization specializing in supply chain management, Syngenta, the leading Swiss agri-business company, the SGS group (Switzerland) which focuses on certification enforcement, Rabobank International and the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI) in The Netherlands.

Royal Ahold

Royal Ahold is a rapidly-growing international food retail and foodservice company with sales in 2000 of Euro 52.5 billion (close to USD 50 billion). Ahold implements a multi-channel, multi-format strategy, serving consumers on four continents directly through food retail and indirectly through foodservice operations while offering various additional services such as internet-based home delivery. Ahold operates or services approximately 8,500 stores in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, and has significant activities in the foodservice industry. The company employs more than 420,000 associates and serves the needs of over 35 million customers in 25 countries in its stores each week as well as over 200,000 institutional and foodservice accounts.

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