American shoppers care about sustainability; in fact, a study by Cone Communications found 83 percent of consumers consider sustainability when buying food. Sixty-nine percent care about sustainable packaging and 65 percent want to know the food they purchase is produced in a way that protects natural resources.
Growing consumer interest in sustainability is driving a transformation in the grocery industry. Kroger is among the grocery retailers making great strides toward a more environmentally responsible supply chain and sustainable business practices.
Last summer, Kroger announced the sustainability goals it hopes to achieve by 2020. This summer, the retailer launched a consumer-facing companion program dubbed “Sustainability Lives Here.” Other highlights of the Kroger sustainability initiatives are below:
Fighting Food Waste with Reusable Plastic Containers for the Supply Chain
One of Kroger’s key goals, announced last year, is reducing food waste. On its website, the retailer cites several ways it hopes to achieve this, including reducing food waste at the source and expanding the use of RPCs.
Reusable plastic containers have demonstrated their ability to reduce the amount of food lost due to damage. When packaging fails early in the supply chain, perishables become damaged and unsaleable before they ever reach store shelves. RPCs help better protect product in transit from production point to distribution center to stores, thereby reducing the amount of food waste.
By better protecting perishables with RPCs, Kroger can make progress toward other key sustainability goals, including:
- Sourcing at least 90 percent of its wild-caught seafood from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries.
- Transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs. Tosca’s egg RPCs helped another well-known grocery retailer reduce shrink by 50 percent in just three months.
- Improve transportation efficiency by 20 percent. Food damaged in transit can’t be sold, and returning and replacing damaged food increases miles driven in a supply chain — not to mention transportation costs. Simply put, less damaged food means fewer additional miles.
Enhancing Transportation Efficiency
Kroger has also committed to improving the efficiency of its transportation operation. Currently, Kroger’s fleet includes 3,200 tractors and 12,000 trailers that make an average of 8,000 deliveries per day. In 2015, Kroger vehicles drove a total of 346 million miles — the equivalent of 14,000 trips around the world.
Kroger has already made great progress in improving transportation efficiency, improving cases shipped per gallon by 51 percent, and truck capacity by 13 percent, between 2008 and 2015. RPCs can further support efforts to improve shipping efficiency.
Light but strong, RPCs feature stackability that makes it easier to maximize cube utilization for every truckload, allowing you to get more product securely on every truck. Their standard base footprint allows RPCs to stack securely and optimally for more efficient packing of trucks. Greater efficiency in optimizing every load means fewer trucks and trips are needed to move the same amount of food.
Making Sustainability THE Priority
In addition to its own efforts to reduce waste and improve efficiency in its stores and supply chain, Kroger’s new program is intended to help consumers do their part in creating a more sustainable grocery industry.
On the SustainabilityLivesHere website, consumers can access coupons for a range of sustainably produced products, learn about green terms they might encounter while shopping, find recipes, and read articles about sustainably sourced products. As you can see, Kroger has ambitious yet achievable plans to improve its sustainability within the next few years. Reaching its goals will require creativity, commitment, and the right tools. It’s very exciting that RPCs are a small but important part of the beautiful big picture of sustainability that Kroger hopes to create!