A Message from
our CEO

CEO, Michael Medline

Corporate responsibility is at the heart of our company purpose: we are a family nurturing families. We work hard to put that purpose into action. Our valued teammates bring it to life in our stores, warehouses, offices and communities across Canada every single day.

How to better nurture the families of today and protect the families of tomorrow is constantly top of mind for us as we confront major environmental and societal challenges. We aim to do our part in addressing these challenges not only because it reflects who we are, but also because our valued customers and shareholders expect us to be part of the solution. I’m proud to say that our team of 127,000 people are rising to the challenge.

Highlights from Fiscal 2020

2020 was a significant year for us in advancing our commitment to corporate responsibility (CR). We established three key action pillars – People, Planet and Products – and built robust teams and strategies for each pillar. The release of this report, our first online Corporate Responsibility Report, caps our achievements over the past year. We are especially proud of the following initiatives

  • Sensory-friendly Shopping: a grassroots program initiated by our store teams in Atlantic Canada to meet the unique grocery shopping needs of our community members with sensory sensitivities. To date, we have launched Sensory-friendly shopping hours in over 450 stores across Canada.

  • Elimination of plastic grocery bags in our Sobeys stores: a landmark initiative to reduce avoidable plastics, taking 225 million single-use plastic bags per year out of circulation.

  • Over 350 new partnerships with local growers and producers: as a proudly Canadian company, we are thrilled to support hundreds of local vendors whose products we feature on our store shelves from coast-to-coast.

At the same time, 2020 brought with it some challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of our lives and our business. Our ability to navigate this challenge is a testament to our resilience: we not only maintained our corporate responsibility commitments while keeping Canadians safe and fed, we increased our support of local communities through key efforts like our Community Action Fund. The Fund has resulted in millions of dollars being immediately infused into local communities.

As a family nurturing families, our purpose drives us to do the right thing for today’s families and the families of future generations. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far, but we know it is just the beginning. What is unique about our Company is that our corporate goals are often driven by local solutions. Our franchisee partners, corporate store managers and distribution centre leaders bring real solutions forward that support a brighter future. The stories highlighted throughout this report amplify that truth in resounding ways.

I invite you to explore our 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report to learn more about our commitments and actions.

signed “Michael Medline”

Michael Medline

President & CEO

Empire Company Limited

July 10, 2020

Working Together for a More Sustainable Tomorrow

VP Sustainability, Vittoria Varalli shopping for peppers.

We are on a journey to be a more sustainable company. We aim to make a positive impact in the lives of today’s families and the families of the future. We are committed to addressing the issues that matter most to our valued stakeholders and where we can make the most meaningful, tangible impact. Specifically:

  1. Removing barriers to accessing healthy food.

    We partner with community experts, service providers and support groups to serve neighbours facing food insecurity.

    Because… One in eight Canadians struggle to access healthy food every day, often leading to negative physical and mental health outcomes.

  2. Tackling climate change by reducing our waste output and emissions.

    We embrace the responsibility we have to take action on climate change, recognizing the risks it poses to food production and to the local communities we serve.

    Because… Canadians throw away three million tonnes of plastic waste every year and less than 10 per cent of the plastic we use gets recycled.

    Because… nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted every year.

  3. Building a diverse workforce that enables us to bring the best solutions forward for our customers and communities.

    We continue to advance our strategic commitment to building a diverse and inclusive environment for our teammates and customers.

    Because… We amplify innovation and create exceptional customer experiences by cultivating an inclusive environment and growing team diversity. This way we all can contribute, thrive and win together. Research shows EBIT margins for companies with diverse management teams are nearly 10% higher.

This CR Report highlights our approach and key achievements across each pillar in our fiscal 2020 year.

  • People: details our investments in community-based nutrition and meal programs and our work to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce in which all of our teammates can thrive.

  • Planet: outlines our environmental actions over the past year, with a focus on reducing single-use plastics.

  • Products: shares progress on our sourcing commitments, as well as stories on how we are bringing innovative ideas that advance our commitment to source sustainably and support a diverse network of local growers and producers.

Looking Ahead

We know we have more work to do to deepen our actions and sharpen our approach by setting specific targets in key priority areas. Specifically, we will move forward with velocity to make progress in these areas:

  • Expanding our commitment to our communities through innovative initiatives that will move the needle on the emotional and physical wellbeing of Canadians

  • Continuing our work on diversity in our organization, expanding our efforts to cultivate a fair, equitable and inclusive environment for everyone

  • Reducing the amount of plastics we use in our operations, specifically focusing on avoidable and hard-to-recycle plastics we source for our stores and in our private label brands

  • Working towards our goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2025 by accelerating our actions to prevent food waste and divert as much surplus food as possible from landfill

  • Gaining a better understanding of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and setting a reduction target to reduce our carbon impact over the coming decade and beyond

  • Continuing to actively pursue opportunities to collaborate with local and national partners who share our values and deliver on concepts that showcase sustainable innovations

Underpinning our current and future actions is our commitment to continue to improve our reporting against set targets. We also plan to align to an established Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework to increase our transparency and accountability to our stakeholders.

As we work together towards a more sustainable tomorrow, I encourage you to read about how we are doing OurPartTM for the families of today and the families of the future.

signed “Vittoria Varalli”

Vittoria Varalli

VP Sustainability

Sobeys Inc.

July 10, 2020

Corporate Responsibility Governance

From our Board of Directors to dedicated internal teams, the three pillars (People, Planet, Products) of our Corporate Responsibility (CR) framework are governed and managed at the senior levels of our organization.

Additionally, our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics provides guidance to all employees (teammates) and reaffirms our commitment to the highest possible personal and corporate standards of business conduct.

Stakeholder Who Role
Board of Directors- Corporate Governance Committee Highest governing body of Sobeys Inc., responsible for the stewardship of the Company. The Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Directors provides oversight over our environmental and social issues, and other topics reflected in this report.

To learn more about our Board, please visit https://www.empireco.ca/en/
Executive Committee Senior management leaders across all operating and business function areas, including our CEO and CFO. Our Executive Committee provides strategic input into our Corporate Responsibility platform and oversees key initiatives.
CR Committees:
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council

  • Sustainability Steering Committee

Senior Leaders across all operating business functions. The Committees are made up of cross-functional business leaders. Both Committees meet quarterly to advise on strategy and initiatives, providing feedback and guidance.

Committee members also act as advocates for corporate responsibility across business functions.

About Our Corporate Responsibility Report 2020

This Report covers our fiscal year 2020, from May 5th, 2019 to May 2nd, 2020, unless otherwise noted. This report represents the Sobeys Inc. family of brands.

Despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic emerging in Canada in early 2020, we have made significant progress in our corporate responsibility agenda. Our commitment to nurturing Canadian families through the pandemic demonstrates that by working together, we can still make positive change even in the toughest of times.

We invite you to read this report and join us in our efforts.

This report has been internally reviewed but is not third-party certified or audited. We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this report but in some cases, we made assumptions and judgements.

For related inquires and the latest updates on our programs and commitments, please contact investor.relations@empireco.ca or follow us on LinkedIn.

To learn more about our company purpose and values, please visit: https://sobeyssbreport.com/our-purpose/

Sobeys Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited, headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.


We are proud of the Corporate Responsibility awards we have received in fiscal 2020. This external recognition helps to highlight that our efforts are having a positive impact:

  • Named as Outstanding Corporation for achievements in philanthropy by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Greater Toronto Chapter

  • Awarded the Canadian Sport Event Sponsorship Initiative of the Year award from Canada’s Sport Tourism Industry’s for our support of the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games

  • Retail Council of Canada Award – Philanthropic Leadership for our contribution to the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games

  • Four women leaders recognized by STAR Women in Grocery Awards, the most from any organization

  • Recognized by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion with the Employer Initiative of the Year award for our Sensory-Friendly Shopping program launched in over 450 stores across Canada

  • Awarded the 2020 Business Innovator of the Year by Fairtrade Canada

Renée Hopfner, Sobeys Inc. Director of Corporate Social Responsibility; Special Olympic Athlete, Julia Kostecki; Special Olympic Athlete and Sobeys Store Employee, Carly Bryden; Cynthia Thompson, Sobeys Inc. VP of Communications & Corporate Affairs
[Left to Right]: Renée Hopfner, Sobeys Inc. Director of Corporate Social Responsibility; Special Olympic Athlete, Julia Kostecki; Special Olympic Athlete and Sobeys Store Employee, Carly Bryden; Cynthia Thompson, Sobeys Inc. former VP of Communications & Corporate Affairs

Our Partners

We are fortunate to be actively engaged with a number of partners across Canada and around the world to accelerate corporate responsibility in all aspects of our business. We meet regularly with our partners to identify areas where we can collaborate to make progress on our collective corporate commitments. We proactively seek out partnerships and innovative solutions to enhance social and environmental wellbeing in the communities we proudly serve.

Special Olympics Canada logo

Special Olympics Canada

Special Olympics Canada is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through the transformative power of sport. We are a Platinum-level partner for Special Olympics Canada with a focus on nutrition education and food access. Since the partnership began in 2016, we have contributed more than $4.1 million in food and funds to Special Olympics Canada.

Jays Care Foundation logo

Jays Care Foundation

The Jays Care Foundation uses baseball to teach life skills and create lasting social change for marginalized children and youth across Canada. It estimates more than 65,000 children annually have benefited through its various programs. We are a proud supporter of the Foundation’s Challenger Baseball Program. Challenger Baseball is an adaptive program designed to empower children and youth living with cognitive and physical disabilities.

The Grocery Foundation logo

The Grocery Foundation/ Toonies For Tummies

The Toonies for Tummies Program provides healthy breakfasts and/or mid-morning meals to hungry school-aged children in Ontario and Western Canada. We are proud to support The Grocery Foundation’s vision: no hungry kids at school. Our involvement in the program has resulted in significant expansion of the campaign, ensuring more kids have access to a healthy meal at the start of every school day.

Community Food Centres Canada logo

Community Food Centres Canada

Community Food Centres Canada seeks to increase access to healthy food in low-income communities, build food skills, increase belonging, and mobilise our communities to push for change. We contributed $100,000 to the Good Food Access Fund which was created to assist with COVID relief efforts and supported over 143 recipients.

Black North logo


The BlackNorth Initiative was created by The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism to combat anti-Black systemic racism in Corporate Canada. The Initiative challenges senior Canadian business leaders to sign a CEO Pledge committing their companies to specific actions and targets designed to end anti-Black systemic racism and create opportunities for all of those in the underrepresented BIPOC community.

CCDI Employee Partner logo

Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI)

CCDI is a forward-looking social organization with research and learning woven into its DNA. CCDI’s mission is to help those they work with be inclusive, free of prejudice and discrimination, and to generate awareness, dialogue and action helping people to recognize diversity as an asset and not an obstacle. For over three years, CCDI has been our partner, providing best practices and leading industry subject matter expertise in Diversity and Inclusion

Catalyst logo

Catalyst (Canada)

Catalyst is a global non-profit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst helps organizations accelerate progress for women at work. Catalyst has been our partner for over three years providing research, best practices and tools to support the advancement of our Diversity and Inclusion priorities.

Pride at Work Canada logo

Pride at Work Canada

Pride at Work Canada helps private, public and non-profit employers create safer, more inclusive workplaces that recognize the skills of LGBTQ2+ people. The vision they share with their employer members is a Canada where every individual can achieve their full potential at work, regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Pride at Work Canada is a new partner this year, creating access to resources that equip our managers and employees to build more inclusive workspaces.

Network of Executive Women logo

Network of Executive Women (NEW)

Founded in 2001, NEW is the largest U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to achieving gender equality in the workplace and advancing women into leadership roles. NEW is a powerful and growing community of nearly 13,000 members, working as a collective voice for everyone in the corporate world who wants to see diversity, equity and inclusion become a reality. Our partnership with the Canadian chapter of NEW provides development and networking opportunities for our teammates.

National Farm Animal Care Council logo

National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)

NFACC builds processes that facilitate a national and inclusive approach to advance farm animal care. As an associate member, we engage with producers, veterinarians, researchers, manufacturers, animal welfare groups, and industry organizations in a science-informed process designed to standardize farm animal Codes of Practice and care assessment.

RSPO logo

Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

The RSPO is an association composed of various organizations from different sectors of the palm oil industry, including palm producers and processors, manufacturers, retailers, investors, and NGOs. The objective of the RSPO is to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through credible global standards and the engagement of stakeholders. Check our progress at: https://rspo.org/members/2910/Sobeys-National-Merchandising-Group

Retail Council of Canada logo

Retail Council Of Canada (RCC)

RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more than 45,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants. We are an active member of the RCC Sustainability Steering Committee.

National Zero Waste Council logo

National Zero Waste Council (NZWC)

The NZWC is a leadership initiative bringing together governments, businesses and non-government organizations to advance waste prevention in Canada. As a member, we engage with likeminded industry leaders to collaborate on and discuss strategies when it comes to waste prevention and elimination.

Canadian Produce Marketing Association logo

Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)

The CPMA is a not-for-profit organization that represents companies that are active in the marketing of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables in Canada from the farm gate to the dinner plate. As a member, we engage with stakeholders throughout the produce industry to discuss opportunities and challenges when it comes to offering the best quality produce to customers.

PAC logo

Packaging Consortium (PAC)

PAC is a not-for-profit corporation that includes over 2,500 members throughout the packaging value chain. As a member, we share industry best practices, tools and expertise with likeminded businesses to combat challenges within the packaging industry, while meeting consumer demands.

One Tree Planted logo

One Tree Planted

One Tree Planted is a non-profit focused on global reforestation. They are dedicated to making it easy for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment, create a healthier climate and protect biodiversity. We have partnered with One Tree Planted to combat climate change, improve air quality, and create a positive social impact by planting trees.

Goodwood Plastic logo

Goodwood Plastic

GoodWood Plastic is a recycling company, hailing from Nova Scotia, that is turning single-use plastics into plastic lumber. Plastic lumber can be turned into decks, deck furniture, benches, planters and much more. We partnered with GoodWood Plastics to recycle plastic materials that are typically not accepted in municipal blue bin programs and turn them into new functions like picnic benches and asphalt.

Trex Logo


Trex is a composite lumber manufacturer and since 1996 has become the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking products. We partner with Trex through our Safeway stores to recycle operational plastic like stretch film, pallet wrap, HDPE stock pharmacy bottles and single use bags into composite lumber.

Fisheries Council of Canada logo

Fisheries Council Of Canada

The FCC is the voice of Canada’s wild-caught fish and seafood industry, promoting a healthy resource and prosperous industry, playing a vital role in the Canadian economy.

Metrio logo


Metrio’s innovative software and team of experts accompany businesses throughout their entire sustainability reporting process. We use Metrio’s services to compile and analyze waste and recycling data of our IGA stores in Quebec.

Earth Day logo

Earth Day Canada

Earth Day Canada’s mission is to help people and organizations reduce their environmental impact. In 2008, IGA merchants created the Fonds Éco IGA in partnership with Earth Day Canada. Since then, IGA merchants have contributed $12 million to fund environmental initiatives.

Ocean Wise logo

Ocean Wise

Ocean Wise is a global not-for-profit ocean conservation organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia. We have partnered with the Ocean Wise Seafood program to support sourcing sustainable products and highlighting them in our stores.

Love Food Hate Waste Canada logo

Love Food Hate Waste (Canada)

Love Food Hate Waste Canada is a national campaign that works with businesses, governments and community groups to inspire and empower Canadians to make their food go further and waste less. We have been a national partner since 2018, campaigning with like-minded organizations to change behaviours to help solve food waste as a global sustainability challenge.

Food Hero logo


FoodHero is a free app that connects consumers with surplus fresh food that would otherwise end up in landfills. Through the app, customers can purchase discounted, nutritious food that is no longer sellable at full price, and pick-up in store. IGA Quebec customers can download the app via the Apple App Store, or Google Play.

Forward-looking Information:

This document contains forward-looking statements which are presented for the purpose of assisting the reader to contextualize Sobeys Inc.’s (the “Company”) financial position and understand management’s expectations regarding our corporate responsibility program. These forward-looking statements may not be appropriate for other purposes. Forward-looking statements are identified by words or phrases such as “estimates”, “plans”, “predicts”, “anticipates”, “forecasts” and other similar expressions or the negative of these terms.

These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the following items:

  1. The Company’s plans to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025 which may be impacted by a change in consumer purchasing trends due to the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19” or “pandemic”) and the demand for food-at-home as businesses resume, suppliers’ and the Company’s ability to ensure distribution centres and inventory stock are kept safe from the pandemic and the Company’s ability to re-use and re-distribute surplus food; and

  2. The Company’s plans to eliminate plastic grocery bags from all banners which may be impacted by a change in consumer preferences due to COVID-19, the duration of the pandemic and the Company’s ability to offer an alternative to plastic grocery bags.

By its nature, forward-looking information requires the Company to make assumptions and is subject to inherent risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking statements made. For more information on risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may impact the Company’s forward-looking statements, please refer to the Company’s materials filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities, including the “Risk Management” section of the Sobeys Inc. fiscal 2020 annual MD&A.

Young boy pointing at the sunset while sitting on his father's shoulders.

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