UNFI Shares Progress on Expanded ESG Goals

Grocery distributor releases “2021 Better for All” report
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
UNFI ESG cover
UNFI's new "Better for All" report outlines progress towards its expanded ESG goals and provides more transparency along its value chain.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has released its annual ESG report, and it’s broader and more detailed in scope than previous versions. UNFI’s “2021 Better for All” report reflects expanded focus areas and provides more specifics on the company’s direct and indirect impacts.

According to the comprehensive assessment, UNFI is taking and making concrete steps towards its 10 goals in the areas of diversity and inclusion, responsible procurement, community development, governance, associate safety and well-being, climate action, waste reduction, customer health and safety and energy efficiency. To help meet those goals, the company assembled an executive steering committee to guide how UNFI fulfills its ESG pledges through its programs and practices.

Among other achievements, the report cited progress in several focus areas:

  • $1 million in grants through the UNFI Foundation to build better food systems.
  • The addition of two new goals related to the enhanced diversity and inclusion strategic plan
  • Four new associate-led Belonging & Innovation Groups (BIGs).
  • The completion and analysis of its emissions strategy targets to the Science Based Targets Initiative.
  • LEED Gold certification for a building in Riverside, Calif.
  • A 1.6 million-mile reduction in its distribution routes and the addition of 53 solar-powered electric trailers to its California fleet.
  • A new pilot program called the Friends of UNFI Food Bank, created in partnership with PCC Community Markets.

UNFI also recapped some of its ESG-related donations in the new report. The company contributed more than $2.4 million in financial donations across all partners and distributed over $38.7 million worth of in-kind donations to partners, including food and non-food items.

“Building from our strong foundation and governance systems, a major focus of our efforts in the last year has been more transparency and a more holistic view of our value chain. We’ve learned a lot about the depth of interconnectivity between our world, communities, and associates, and are working even more closely with our stakeholders to address the many challenges that face the global food system,” declared Alisha Real, UNFI’s director of sustainability and social impact.

The full report is available online at BetterForAll.UNFI.com.

The ESG summary comes on the heels of UNFI’s second quarter financial report, which showed a 7.5% year-over-year sales gain and included a positive outlook for the rest of its fiscal year.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 47 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 

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