Kroger's "moonshot" to solve hunger, eliminate waste

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Kroger's "moonshot" to solve hunger, eliminate waste

By Gina Acosta - 09/19/2017

Kroger is embarking on a new, national effort aimed at eliminating waste across the company and ending hunger by 2025.

The ambitious announcement from Kroger comes on the heels of a new survey detailing an "authenticity gap" among big companies. Specifically, according to FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap report​​​​​​, retailers seemingly no longer have the option to be silent on social issues.

According to the report, new research shows that the value of a product is intrinsically linked to consumers’ views on whether the leadership of a company is seen to be behaving ethically, and clarity about how a product is created, including the sourcing of materials and manufacturing methods.

Across the United States, 42 million Americans struggle with hunger. At the same time, an estimated 72 billion pounds of food ends up in a landfill every year.

“No family in a community we serve should ever go hungry, and no food in a store we operate should ever go to waste,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “More than 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes unconsumed, while one in eight people struggle with hunger. That just doesn’t make sense,” McMullen said. “As America’s grocer and one of the largest retailers in the world, we are committing to doing something about it.”

Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan includes the bold commitments outlined below, in keeping with the company’s Purpose to Feed the Human Spirit.

Kroger is also crowdsourcing for solutions, asking communities, partners and other stakeholders to help provide ideas, feedback and best practices as the effort evolves.

“We don’t – and we won’t – have all the answers,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs.  “While we are clear about our vision, we are flexible about how to get there. We are working closely with both Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), our longstanding partners, to develop transparent metrics to track our progress. And we are inviting everyone who is passionate about feeding people and protecting the planet to join us in our mission to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste across our company by 2025."

Part of Kroger's plan includes the following actions:

  • Establish a $10 million innovation fund within The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger, food waste and the paradoxical relationship between the two.
  • Accelerate food donations to provide three billion meals by 2025 to feed people facing hunger in the places Kroger calls home. In partnership with its customers, associates and other partners, Kroger has donated one billion meals via combined food and funds donations since 2013.
  • Donate not just more food, more balanced meals via Kroger’s industry-leading fresh food donations program. Kroger has been feeding people facing hunger since the company’s inception in 1883, and as a founding partner of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, Kroger has longstanding partners with food banks across the country. Today, Kroger store associates are empowered to identify meat, produce, dairy and bakery items for donation that remain safe, fresh and nutritious. Last year, Kroger donated the equivalent of 46 million fresh meals to local food banks in addition to dry goods and shelf-stable groceries.
  • Advocate for public policy solutions to address hunger and to shorten the line at food banks, lobbying for continued funding of federal hunger relief programs, and for public policies that help communities prevent and divert waste from landfills, including recycling, composting and sustainability programs that can be scaled for maximum impact.
  • Achieve all Zero Waste 2020 goals outlined in the annual Kroger sustainability report.
  • Eliminate food waste by 2025 through prevention, donation and diversion efforts in all stores and across Kroger. Develop transparent reporting on food loss and waste.
  • Join forces with both new and longstanding partners to identify opportunities, leverage data, and determine where by working together Kroger can help the most.
  • Transform communities and improve the health of millions of Americans by 2025 by making balanced meals more readily available, sharing scalable food waste solutions with other retailers, restaurants and local governments, and working within Kroger’s supply chain to reduce farm-to-fork food loss.

“We recognize we have a lot of work to do,” he added. “But we know when Kroger’s more than 443,000 associates put their passion to work to make something happen, we can uplift our communities, the planet and each other.”