Delhaize Belgium has opened a 9,500 square-metre wine bottling plant, which it says is the largest of its kind in the Benelux region.
The chain invested €30 million into the plant's construction and will bottle wine for its own customers and also for other brands within parent group Ahold Delhaize.
Wine At Delhaize
Wine has always been central to Delhaize, the retailer noted.
Shortly after the creation of the chain in 1867, the retailer opened its own wine bottling plant in Brussels in 1880.
This tradition is being continued with a completely new, high-tech complex where the equivalent of 14 Olympic swimming pools can be bottled each year with a storage capacity of 3 million litres of wine.
In the bottling plant, wines from various vineyards around the world arrive in bulk in tankers or containers.
They will be stored in the wine cellar of the plant until they are ready to be bottled.
Before they end up in stores, the wine goes through a number of processes such as filtering to remove the last suspended particles.
The filtration and preservation processes are still carried out in the traditional way in the new bottling plant.
Speaking at the opening of the plant, Belgium's prime minister Alexander De Croo said, "It is fascinating to see how a traditional product like wine, which we Belgians love so much, is bottled in such a high-tech building. I am also very pleased that there was particular attention to sustainability. Delhaize has clearly invested in the future here."
Delhaize's ambition is to bottle a natural product like wine in a sustainable way.
Investments were made in sustainable systems, such as water and heat recovery for cleaning and heating the building, with minimal wastewater emission.
The wines are stored underground, ensuring an almost constant temperature in winter and summer without the need for cooling or heating.
Importing wine from around the world in bulk rather than in bottles not only halves the transportation cost, it also halves the wine's carbon footprint, the retailer added.
"Delhaize is one of the largest wine retailers in the country with an excellent reputation in terms of price/quality," said Xavier Piesvaux, CEO of Delhaize Belgium.
"We want to further strengthen that image in the future with this brand new facility," Piesvaux added.