The Importance of ESG Practices in the Food Grocery Retail Industry

Posted by Manisha S on August 1st, 2023

A strategic combination of brick-and-mortar stores and sustainability has come of age to help create a society free of hunger and waste—a commitment that is all but likely to foster the ESG performance of food grocery retailers. A holistic approach and concerted efforts for a circular economy have unlocked avenues of opportunities to underscore sustainability, complementing good governance, transparency, ethics, diversity, health & wellbeing, renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction.

Grocery CEOs, shoppers, vendors, investors, NGOs and government organizations are zeroing in on ESG targets to streamline the path to sustainability. A spike in greenhouse gas emissions has meant grocers have upped their efforts on environmental, social and governance fronts—known as ESG.

With consumer behavior shifting towards sustainable products, more so during the COVID-19 pandemic, food manufacturing companies have exhibited resilience. Of late, brands are not shying from making their ESG performance public, communicating their milestones and sharing credentials.

Learn more about the practices & strategies being implemented by industry participants from the Food Grocery Retail Industry ESG Thematic Report, 2023, published by Astra ESG Solutions

Walmart Echoes Green Growth

Millennials and the Gen Z population prioritize sustainability-marketed products as grocery shoppers emphasize GHG emission reduction and raw material conservation. Amidst the popularity of ready-made meals, consumers expect brands to adhere to sustainability goals. Brands are gearing to reduce virgin plastic content and invest in recyclable packaging. Walmart is heading to 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025. The behemoth aims for 20% post-consumer recycled content in private-brand product packaging across North America by 2025.

The American retail brand is on the cusp of innovation and is committed to science-based targets (SBTs) to attain a 35% reduction in absolute scopes 1 & 2 emissions by 2025. In fact, the company is on course to minimize or avoid one billion metric tons of GHG emissions (Project Gigaton) in the global value chain by 2030. It claims that over 4,500 suppliers have joined the project since 2017.

On the other side of the spectrum of opportunities and challenges, an unprecedented rise in waste has prompted Walmart to use reusable packaging containers and navigate unsold food issues. The retailer giant is aiming for zero operational waste in the U.S., Canada and Mexico by 2025. Leading brands are expected to develop an ESG impact that resonates the sentiments of the circular economy.

Kroger Insists on Food & Product Safety to Bolster Philanthropy

The COVID-19 disruption was a wake-up call for retailers to reinforce responsible sourcing and foster quality food across the supply chain. A robust social profile is paramount to provide convenience and add value to customers through the inculcation of, including but not limited to, integrity, safety, respect and inclusion. Kroger has set bullish strategies across manufacturing and distribution centers, such as environmental monitoring programs, hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, leadership and training, food allergen control, food safety maintenance, cleaning practices and pest prevention.

Brands are positioning themselves to tap into social pillars to foster donations and meals for communities. Ever since the retail company set the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan in 2017, it has taken a giant stride to achieve the philanthropic goals of creating communities free from food waste and hunger. Kroger infers to have trained 98% of associates in personal safety, while it boasts of rescuing 94 million pounds of surplus food for donation. In 2021, the American brand asserted to have directed 546 million meals to communities.

The retailer explored diversity-focused development and learning opportunities to underpin positive change in the workplace. The company joined forces with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) to foster a diverse talent pipeline. It essentially injected around USD 450 million into associate wages and training in 2021.

Is your business one of participants to the Food Grocery Retail Industry? Contact us for focused consultation around ESG Investing, and help you build sustainable business practices

Costco Wholesale Underscores Corporate Governance

Strong corporate governance heralds a company culture that complements transparency, ethics & compliance, engagement in public policy, board diversity and human rights. The FY 2022 saw Costco make sustainability a "core part of the charter and responsibility" for the Board's Nominating and Governance Committee. It has also introduced ESG Executive Advisory Council and aligned executive compensation with ESG priorities, including but not limited to, waste reduction, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), climate and resource consumption.

Risk assessment in financial planning, strategy and business has become paramount to upholding sustainability standards. Costco has qualitatively analyzed and identified potential climate-related risks influencing the Food & Beverage and Multiline retail industries. In 2022, its global executives reportedly held in-depth climate-pertaining scenarios assessments to decipher risks and opportunities to supply chain, operations, goodwill, employees, members and products.

The retailer has taken a quantum leap in transparency through frameworks, including CDP. The retail giant has rolled out several frameworks to augment data security. The manufacturing company is counting on the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF), ISO27001 and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The adoption of measures, such as multi-factor authentication, phishing detection and mitigation and file integrity monitoring, has furthered the company's governance policies.

At a time when brands are grappling to protect the planet and propel their business performance, creating a transparent baseline around GHG emissions could be the silver bullet. For instance, the AEON Group has set the AEON Decarbonization Vision 2050 to minimize CO2 emissions to zero at stores by 2040, helping achieve a decarbonized society. 

Growth Of The Food Grocery Retail Market

As of 2022, the global food grocery retail market is valued at USD 11,324.4 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.0%. In addition to increased grocery expenditures induced by COVID-19 lockdown, higher online grocery sales volumes, and consumer polarization, the growth is primarily attributed to these factors. As a result of the pandemic, consumers became polarized where some were ready to pay for premium-priced products. The food & grocery retail sector has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Astra – ESG Solutions by Grand View Research

Astra is the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) arm of Grand View Research Inc. - a global market research publishing & management consulting firm.

Astra offers comprehensive ESG thematic assessment & scores across diverse impact & socially responsible investment topics, including both public and private companies along with intuitive dashboards. Our ESG solutions are powered by robust fundamental & alternative information. Astra specializes in consulting services that equip corporates and the investment community with the in-depth ESG research and actionable insight they need to support their bottom lines and their values. We have supported our clients across diverse ESG consulting projects & advisory services, including climate strategies & assessment, ESG benchmarking, stakeholder engagement programs, active ownership, developing ESG investment strategies, ESG data services, build corporate sustainability reports. Astra team includes a pool of industry experts and ESG enthusiasts who possess extensive end-end ESG research and consulting experience at a global level.

For more ESG Thematic reports, please visit Astra ESG Solutions, powered by Grand View Research

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Manisha S

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Manisha S
Joined: August 2nd, 2017
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