Fighting Food Waste
The USDA estimates that 30-40% of the US food supply is wasted. This food loss occurs across all stages of the supply chain: from farms, to transportation, stores, and homes. As a grocery retailer and manufacturer, we believe it’s our job to get food to our customers with minimal waste.
Committed to Reducing Food Waste in Our Operations
Reducing food waste has always been a priority for our stores, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities. In 2019, we committed to reduce food waste in our Pacific Coast Divisions by 50% by 2030 as one of the first signatories of the Pacific Coast Collaborative’s West Coast voluntary agreement to reduce wasted food. This commitment supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and helps to establish methodologies to measure and report food waste that can be utilized across our operations.
Preventing Food Waste
Albertsons Companies utilizes the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize our actions in preventing food waste and diverting organic material from the landfill. We prioritize prevention by exploring opportunities for source reduction, including improved inventory management to reduce shrink and more accurately order products. Another way we reduce food from being wasted is by utilizing so-called imperfect fruits and vegetables. For example, our stores’ Fresh Cut programs pre-cut produce items for customers that might otherwise be classified as imperfect.
When products on our shelves near their “Use By” date, we mark down prices or offer buy-one-get-one deals to encourage our customers to buy those products. If this food is not purchased and safe for consumption, we donate it to our local partners in order to get it to people in need.
Providing Local Hunger Relief
Through our in-store food donation program, we donate edible fresh and packaged food products that are close to the “Use By” date to local food banks. In 2018, we donated more than $226 million in products to support food banks, food pantries, and other hunger relief agencies. We partner with organizations like Feeding America and other local organizations to support the communities we serve. We are a Visionary Partner of Feeding America, and in 2019, we donated more than 100 million pounds of food to them.
“Our internal programs are not just about tackling food waste at the source; we’re building a culture of awareness. Our teams work hard on inventory management, planning, ordering, and receiving practices. We’ve combined these best practices with our Fresh Rescue program to supply quality food to help those in need. It’s a win-win situation.”
– Susan Morris, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer
Diverting Food Waste from Landfills
Food that can’t be sold or donated can be diverted through animal feed, anaerobic digestion, or composting. Throughout our operations, we have innovative partnerships with local farms for many of our stores and manufacturing facilities to donate animal feed.
We also compost organic materials, and in some places, it is converted it into energy. In the Pacific Northwest, we have an innovative partnership where our food waste is sent to a biodigester that creates biogas and soil nutrients for a local organic farm. The biogas is converted to electricity and used to power the onsite plant that packages fruit grown using a soil amendment made from our organic waste. These organic crops are then sold in our stores, completing the circular economy of food.
Working with our Industry
Albertsons Companies is an active member of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), a cross-sector industry initiative led by the Food Marketing Institute, the Consumer Brands Association (formerly the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association), and the National Restaurant Association. FWRA focuses on the challenges of food waste to help shrink the grocery, manufacturing and restaurant sector’s environmental footprint while also addressing hunger in America. Additionally, we contributed to ReFED’s “Retail Food Waste Action Guide” that supports all retailers in their efforts to tackle food waste.
By working together with our suppliers and our industry, we know we can reduce the amount of food that is wasted in the US. We continue to look for opportunities to innovate within our operations and our industry to prevent food waste, donate food to those in need, and divert as much organic material as possible from the landfill.