UNFI’s ESG Report for FY 2023 Reveals Progress in Key Areas

Distributor dedicated to delivering positive impact, operational efficiency and reinforcing value proposition to stakeholders
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot
UNFI Better for All 2023 ESG Report Cover Main Image
During its 2023 fiscal year, UNFI sharpened its focus on its most pressing impact areas: safety, well-being, waste, climate, sourcing and community.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has released its 13th annual “Better for All” report, which discusses the company’s progress on its social, environmental and governance objectives during its 2023 fiscal year ended July 29. According to the report, UNFI has sharpened its focus on its most pressing impact areas: safety, well-being, waste, climate, sourcing and community. This in turn has directly benefited the company’s business performance, leading to enhanced value for all of its stakeholders, according to the distributor. 

“UNFI is building a company that creates sustainable value for stakeholders and shareholders, and a better food system for all,” asserted Sandy Douglas, the company’s president and CEO. “In FY2023, we issued new responsible sourcing policies and position statements; expanded supplier diversity efforts; reaffirmed our broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); started work on our ninth and largest on-site solar array; completed LED lighting conversions across all of our distribution centers (DCs); and deployed a new system that helps us reduce food waste in our DCs.”

[Read more: “Special Report: The Greener Grocer”]

In its report, UNFI noted the following milestones toward its goal to build a more sustainable food system:

• In connection with the company’s new Supplier and Vendor Code of Conduct, it published both a formal policy designed to support the goal of zero deforestation across its primary deforestation-linked commodities by 2025, and a position statement and action plan for animal welfare standards in its supply chain.

• It completed a roof-mounted solar array installation, its largest to date, at its Howell, N.J., DC, with a new, bigger roof-mounted solar array at its Riverside, Calif., DC slated for the near future.

• It introduced the Climate Action Partnership to encourage suppliers to make credible climate commitments and provide innovative and scalable resources specific to the food system.

• It reaffirmed its commitment to DEI and continued to build a diverse, high-performing and agile workforce by providing more DEI programming to employees.

• It successfully completed an electric-vehicle blueprint that describes how the company plans to transition to zero-emission vehicles in California.

• It completed LED lighting conversions in all distribution centers, which not only lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and lowers cost, but also improves safety by increasing lighting and limiting maintenance work throughout the facility.

• It implemented a reverse logistics disposition reporting system at all distribution centers to boost inventory visibility, improve operating efficiency, reduce food waste and lower waste disposal costs, contributing to lower shrink in distribution centers.

• It supported the Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture program, launched by The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

“Our associates can be very proud of the solid progress on company sustainability and operational efficiency goals,” added Douglas. “I look forward to what we’ll accomplish together in 2024.”

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. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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