How Kroger Battles Waste During the Pandemic

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How Kroger Battles Waste During the Pandemic

By Thad Rueter - 09/25/2020
How Kroger Battles Waste During the Pandemic
The majority of shoppers are eating more meals together as a family during the pandemic, Kroger said.

The battle against food waste continues during the pandemic, and fresh data from The Kroger Co. shows that many consumers have a high awareness of that issue.

A recent national survey of Kroger shoppers conducted by 84.51˚, the grocer's data analytics subsidiary, revealed that food waste prevention is top of mind for many families as they continue to enjoy more meals together at home.

According to Kroger survey data:

  • The majority of shoppers are eating more meals together as a family
  • Nearly three out of four are eating meals prepared at home multiple times a day, with more than half of those meals requiring a moderate to high amount of preparation
  • 35% strongly agree that they're more conscious of food waste since the onset of COVID-19
  • Nearly half cite food expiration as the biggest cause offood waste during the pandemic

"The past several months have demonstrated just how much meals matter, especially when they're prepared and enjoyed with family and friends," said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group VP of corporate affairs and chief sustainability officer. "As customers continue to rediscover their passion for making food and gathering around the dinner table, Kroger will be there to provide food inspiration and easy ways to join our mission to create a world with zero hunger and zero waste."

The company said that it's inviting customers to join its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste effort via the following methods: rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar or committing a donation of their choice ($1, $5 and $10 in value) at checklanes across nearly 2,800 Kroger banner stores. Customers can also direct individual gifts via e-commerce orders.

This spring, Kroger's foundation accelerated funding totaling nearly $400,000 to five social enterprises in its Innovation Fund portfolio. The innovators — Food ForestImperfect FoodsReplateRipe Revival and Seal the Seasons — are actively deploying their solutions for on-farm and at-home food waste reduction across the country through these steps:

  • Simplified Date Labels: In 2020, Kroger's manufacturing plants and co-packing suppliers aligned to the company's plan to standardize date labels for its Our Brands food products, providing simpler, easier-to-understand labels that result in less household food waste.
  • Food Waste Resources on Kroger.com: The grocer's website offers food waste prevention resources, including fridge organization tips, freezer-friendly facts, meal prep planners, and fresh, waste-free recipes.
  • Plastic Film Recycling Program: Customers can recycle single-use plastic bags, outer package wrapping, plastic cereal box liners, and shipping materials through Kroger's free, in-store plastic film recycling program. In the past three years, the program has recycled more than 180 million pounds of plastic.
  • Simple Truth Recycling Program: This initiative offers customers a free and simple way to recycle the flexible packaging of more than 300 products from Simple Truth, which the grocer touts as America's largest natural and organic brand, without leaving home

Kroger also revealed that 16 of its major suppliers to date have joined the 10x20x30 initiative to identify and reduce food loss and waste from their supply chains. The company joins more than 10 of the world's largest food retailers and providers as a founding member of 10x20x30, committing to engage at least 20 suppliers in a holistic approach to halve food loss and waste by 2030.

Kroger's goal is to achieve zero food waste in its own retail grocery operations by 2025. In the past two years, the company has decreased total food waste generated in stores by 13% and improved its food waste diversion rate by almost 18%.

Through the 10x20x30 initiative, Kroger's partner suppliers have committed to a 50% reduction target in their own operations, to measure and publish their food loss and waste inventories, and to create actionable strategies to reduce waste. Participating suppliers to date include:

  • Amy's
  • Chobani
  • Clif Bar & Co.
  • Danone North America
  • Dayka & Hackett LLC
  • Driscoll's
  • Flowers Foods Inc
  • Grimmway Farms
  • High Liner Foods
  • Hormel Foods
  • Impossible Foods
  • Pacific Coast Producers
  • Rich Products Corp.
  • Taylor Farms
  • Tillamook County Creamery Association
  • Unilever

"Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan includes ambitious goals that require partnership, collaboration and innovation," said Dailey. "We're proud to partner with these leading suppliers that are committed to bold action, and we encourage other producers and CPG brands to join us. It will take all of our collective action to realize our vision of a future free of hunger and waste."

Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.