As Canada’s top food rescue partner, donated more than 9.6M pounds of surplus food to charities
More than half of the food produced in Canada goes to waste, yet one in seven Canadian families struggles with food insecurity. Food is at the core of our business and, as a national grocer, we have the reach and the responsibility to do OurPartTM to reduce food waste from our operations and across our value chain, including with our suppliers and customers. Tackling surplus food is an important way to ensure more people get the meals they need to live healthy lives while also reducing the many other environmental and social impacts associated with waste. Our goal is to reduce food waste by 50 per cent in our operations by 2025—and we’re making progress in partnership with Second Harvest and non-profit organizations across Canada.
Fiscal 2022 Performance Highlight
22% reduction in food waste in our stores—almost halfway to our target of achieving 50% reduction in food waste by 2025.
9.6M+ pounds surplus food donated to local charities from our stores and warehouses through our partnership with Second Harvest in fiscal 2022.
31M+ pounds of greenhouse gases diverted as a result of surplus food donations.
We are committed to reducing food waste in our operations by 50 per cent by 2025, measuring and reporting on our progress using the globally recognized Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard. To reach this target, we work with likeminded partners to reduce food waste in our stores and supply chain, ensure surplus food makes its way to the tables of families who are in need, and track the incredible food rescue and donation programs already in place at our stores across the country.
Our food waste reduction strategy has three areas of focus:
Preventing Food Loss and Waste
Some of the big challenges we face in this area include building awareness, cultivating new behaviours, and providing tools and systems that can empower our teams and customers to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and match surplus food from donor organizations with community and charitable organizations such as food banks.
We have implemented a multi-tiered food waste prevention program that all managers are expected to execute in our stores daily. This includes:
Equipping store managers with consistent foundational knowledge and skills.
Fresh Item Management
Training teammates on a variety of fresh item management systems, which use advanced analytical tools to optimize fresh food production levels by providing accurate production levels on store-made items.
Computer Automated Ordering
Using computer-generated ordering to assist with more accurate ordering and tracking of products. Data is used to generate automated orders that keep our stores in stock, while preventing over-ordering and food waste.
Exit Strategies or Repurposing
Finding creative solutions to use up surplus ingredients. Foods that would traditionally go to waste are being repurposed into delicious snacks, meals and side dishes.
Our Reduction Policy arms our stores with the ability to manage their counters in a controlled and effective manner. Specifically, this policy provides guidance to stores to manage instances of surplus food, such as from over-production, by selling at reduced prices and thereby preventing food waste.
Redistributing Surplus Food—National Food Rescue Program
To make progress towards our goal to reduce food waste by 50 per cent across our operations by 2025, we have formed a national partnership with Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food-rescue organization. This partnership has a national approach to implementation and to measuring our impact, while still empowering our stores to choose and partner with regional and local non-profit partners who understand community needs—something they have been doing for decades, leading to long-standing relationships with food banks and charitable organizations.
We remain on track to deploy the Second Harvest Food Rescue App coast to coast, connecting our stores with non-profit organizations and charities with fresh, healthy food while also reducing surplus food. We successfully deployed the food rescue program across our full-service stores (Sobeys, Thrifty Foods and Safeway) in fiscal 2022 and will complete rollout to our community and discount grocery stores (IGA, Foodland/Co-Op and FreshCo) by mid-2022. We have also onboarded our Customer Fulfillment Centre for our e-commerce business, Voilà, and three Retail Support Centres to the food rescue program. Watch this video to learn more about our partnership with Second Harvest.
One of the many benefits of our national food rescue program is that it makes it easier for our stores to donate surplus, perishable food from nutrient-dense food categories, such as produce, dairy and meat/proteins. These are the very foods that are most difficult for local charitable partners to acquire. We’ve made progress on donating more nutrient-dense foods by providing clear donation guidelines and connecting our stores and warehouses with a wider network of local organizations. Indeed, 57 per cent of our surplus food donations in fiscal 2022 were produce, dairy and meat/proteins. Knowing that these specific types of food also have the highest environmental impact, it’s even more important to divert them from landfills.
Raising Awareness With Our Customers to Rescue Food at Home
In addition to our work with Second Harvest, we also continue to build awareness with our customers through ongoing campaigns about how to reduce food waste. We partnered with other Canadian companies and organizations to create a customer-facing campaign to promote a range of waste-reduction behaviours and opportunities during Waste Reduction Week. We also encouraged customers to adopt the “4th R”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rescue. And our teams in Quebec and New Brunswick partnered with the Fonds Éco IGA to host a series of educational workshops for customers, providing them with tips and resources that help individuals reduce their food waste. Titled “Food Fight,” the program has been active for six years, and we have reached more than 17,000 participants.
Looking ahead, we will broaden our efforts to reduce food waste along our supply chains, continuing to partner with our suppliers and others to drive progress.
Expanding FoodHero Access
Our partnership with the FoodHero mobile app enables our store teams to divert surplus food by offering it at discounted prices. The app makes it easier for customers to save up to 60 per cent on proteins, baked goods, produce and more. In fiscal 2022 we improved in-store FoodHero operations and staff training, resulting in more food being saved every week. We also expanded the availability of the FoodHero app in more grocery stores in Québec, with its deployment in Rachelle Béry and the upcoming expansion to Traditions and Bonichoix stores. Looking ahead, we aim to expand the FoodHero app to our grocery stores outside Quebec.
Canada’s Top Food Rescue Partner With Second Harvest
We are proud to be named Canada’s top food rescue partner by Second Harvest. In fiscal 2022 we donated over 9.6 million pounds of surplus food from our stores and warehouses – more than another Canadian company partnering with Second Harvest. That equates to over 9 million meals provided to families in our communities. In fiscal 2022 we donated over 9.6 million pounds of surplus food from our stores and warehouses. In addition to helping families in need access healthy foods, our donations are on track to rescue an estimated 31 million pounds of food annually and divert approximately 41 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year, the equivalent of taking more than
8,600 cars off the road.
Celebrating Our People
To recognize the incredible work our stores and teammates are doing every day to tackle food waste, we introduced a Food Rescue Reward & Recognition program in fiscal 2022. So far 100 per cent of our stores where we have deployed our food rescue program have qualified for the rewards and recognition under that program, demonstrating the high level of commitment and results being delivered across our business.
Making connections and building relationships in our community is incredibly important to us. The Second Harvest Food Rescue App has allowed us to further our relationship with our community partners and create positive change for those facing food insecurity.”
Samantha Parsons-Robb, Sobeys Meadowbrook in Edmonton
Our work to reduce food waste connects with our focus on ethical and sustainable sourcing, building stronger communities and reducing plastics.
As a family nurturing families, we want to ensure Canadians are taken care of today, tomorrow and in the future. By doing OurPart™ for the environment, we hope to inspire our customers to do theirs. Every step we take together—big or small—can make a difference.Learn More