Sales for Sweden’s largest supermarket group ICA Sweden rose by 3.7% in November 2015 compared with the corresponding month in 2014, while like-for-like (same store) stores increased by 3.1% as organic products continued to help drive sales.

November 2015 sales in Swedish ICA stores totaled SEK 8.622 billion (US$1.0bn) excluding VAT while sales in January-November 2015 amounted to SEK 98.018 billion (US$11.5bn), an increase of 3.8% compared with the previous year.

For the three months to September 2015, ICA Sweden sales rose by 4.6% compared to the same period in 2014 with higher wholesale sales volumes. Operating profit increased by 2.7% to SEK 996 million (US$117 million).

Organic products continued to rise during the third quarter, along with sales of private label products. The number of ICA stores offering online sales was 102 with a goal of 150 stores by the end of 2015.

Sales of organic products from ICA Sweden’s central assortment increased by 48% compared with the corresponding period a year ago.

“Today eight out of ten people buy organic products on a regular basis – a development that can also be seen in our sales figures,” comments Per Strömberg, CEO of ICA Gruppen. “This is no fleeting trend; rather, it clearly shows a change in customers’ buying behavior – driven by changed priorities as well as a greater offering of organic alternatives. As a major actor in food and grocery retail, we have great opportunities to truly influence our customers in a more sustainable direction.”

Parent company ICA Gruppen presented its sustainability report for the third quarter of 2015 that addresses important issues and initiatives regarding the environment, quality, ethical trade, health and social engagement. And it announced that its operations will be climate-neutral in five years, by 2020.

“This encompasses the climate impact of operations in stores, pharmacies, warehouses and offices from areas such as refrigerants, electricity, goods transports and business travel in both the Swedish and Baltic operations. The decrease will be measured using a science-based method developed by the UN and WWF, among others,” ICA Gruppen said.

ICA will achieve this by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and through more efficient use of resources as well as by climate compensating the climate impact than cannot be eliminated in ICA’s operations.

“Sustainability and the climate are a strategic priority for us,” said Mr. Strömberg. “We achieved our previous target – to lower our direct climate impact by 30% from 2006 to 2020 – already at the start of this year.

“We are therefore now setting a much more ambitious climate target that we are proud of, and that hopefully will inspire other companies to take their responsibility.”

At 30 November 2015, the number of ICA stores in Sweden was 1,306. ICA Sweden has a market share of around 36% and supplies independent retailers that operate under the ICA banner. ICA Gruppen also operates 242 Rimi Baltic stores in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.