Albert Heijn accused of language discrimination

06 May 2011, by

Supermarket chain Albert Heijn is accused of language discrimination by Stichting Taalverdediging, an independent organisation that promotes the Dutch language.

The foundation is reacting against Albert Heijn's policy to place the Dutch description on the Euro Shopper packaging in small font, with the English one featured in a larger font above.

According to Stichting Taalverdediging, the fact that Dutch is not the "main" language makes it difficult for both immigrants to integrate and low-income clients who do not speak English to buy.

Note that the new packages were introduced in November 2009.

Sources:, De Volkskrant

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Comments arranged by date (Total 6 comments)  
May 06 2011, 10:34AM

I remembered my first days-months in Amsterdam.. Trying to shop in Albert Heijn and to figure out what that Dutch words mean. It's not wise to sell products that has only Dutch information and for sure it did not help me to immigrate !! Just made me to buy some other simple cooking materials.. Seriously is anyone believe that having only Dutch language on products help people immigrate?

May 07 2011, 11:24PM

An article doesn’t say that Stichting Taalverdediging asks to get rid of the description of products in English, and keep only Dutch version. It only says that this organization believes that it would be better if on the products sold in the Netherlands, the main language (i.e. presented first on the list and using a bigger font) would be Dutch, to firstly make it easier for non-English speaking Dutch people read it, and secondly to motivate immigrants at least try to read it in Dutch before they turn to English.

May 12 2011, 12:14PM

Why not just have both, in a medium font? Dutch is, after all, the language of the Netherlands. And a lot of people speak English. Have both, in the same size font. No problem.

May 15 2011, 08:03PM

It has nothing to do with the Dutch market; AH's Euroshop brand is sold not only in here in NL @ AH but throughout various supermarkets in Europe. The key feature of the AH Euroshop brand is it low cost. If AH needs to print labels in many languages, the cost increases and it makes the product less competitive abroad. Do you think German, Protuguese, British or Italian give a hoot about the size of the Dutch font?

When AH can't compete abroad and these jobs are lost to other private label bottlers we can all thank Stichting Taalverdediging for a job well done

May 23 2011, 02:17AM

Although the English may be to offer labelling for foreign markets, I agree with the principle of the argument proposed by Stichting Taalverdediging. As a foreigner who is an English-native-speaker, and have moved permanently to the Netherlands, it sabotages my cultural integration when I am offered to speak and read English at any opportunity. Hulp!

September 01 2014, 09:30AM

Stichting Taalverdediging is just some nationalist PVV-organisation, not to be taken seriously. Note how they, for their ease, forget that we have four official languages in the Netherlands. You don't hear them complain however that products sold in Frysland do not have a description of any kind in Frisian, nor do those sold at Albert Heijn (Van der Tweel) in Bonaire have a description of any kind in Papiamento. English is also an official language in the Netherlands, having the official status of regional language for St. Eustatius, Saba and Amsterdam, just like Frisian does for Frysland and Papiamento for Bonaire. Dutch is the national language, but if Albert Heijn rather prints English first/big and Dutch second/smaller on *some* products, they have all the right to do so. Much better than Aldi/Lidl, who print descriptions often in German only on most of their products. Now that is a language most Dutch people do not understand.

About the Author
Moa Thorssell

Journalist with experience within news paper, magazine, tv, web and radio. Biggest interests: travel...



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