Food Waste

As part of Kroger's Zero Hunger I Zero Waste social impact plan, we are committed to eliminating food waste across our company so that no food is going to landfill by 2025. Recovering edible food that is lost through the value chain (farms, food manufacturers, consumer-facing businesses and homes) represents an opportunity to support Americans who experience hunger and food insecurity, build efficiency in the supply chain, and shift consumption in a way that reduces environmental impacts.

What does this mean? First and foremost, we are working to minimize the amount of food waste generated in our direct operations, and to divert any remaining food waste away from landfills—to be a zero food waste company. We will also partner with our suppliers and our customers to reduce food waste through education, awareness building and waste reduction initiatives.

Data Analysis and Baselining

Our commitment to achieve zero food waste by 2025 starts with understanding Kroger’s current food waste footprint. Reducing waste starts with measurement so we can understand where the most significant opportunities to reduce and divert more waste lie.

In 2017, Kroger and WWF began work to establish measurement metrics and a baseline footprint in our business operations. This process initially focused on 2,500 stores in the Kroger Family of Companies. We focused first on assessing avoidable food waste across retail supermarket operations. Using the newly created World Resources Institute (WRI) Food Loss and Waste Standard, Kroger and WWF evaluated and outlined where waste occurs within our retail operations and how the waste is disposed or recycled. We also evaluated shrink data in combination with food donation data to understand what the opportunity is for increasing donations.

Food Waste Footprint

Based on this analysis, we estimate that about 27% of food loss and waste in our stores is being diverted for compost, animal feed or anaerobic digestion, while 73% is being landfilled. This includes both food and inedible (meat and bone) parts. It does not include food donated to feed people through our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue program because the Food Loss and Waste Standard specifies that food rescued for people to eat does not classify as "food waste."

Prioritization and Goal-Setting

Our priority areas are described below, while additional discussion of our interim goals and milestones to help shape our focus in the coming years is provided in our full sustainability report download.

Priority #1: Reduce Food Waste

First and foremost, our priority is to eliminate avoidable food loss within our operations. We can accomplish this in several ways, such as reducing food loss on the sales floor through improved ordering, merchandising and markdown practices. We will also work with our suppliers and customers to define new ways to display, package and sell products so we can ensure edible food is not wasted in our stores, and to keep food fresh longer at home.

Priority #2: Accelerate Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue program

As America’s grocer, Kroger is connected to our communities – with global reach and local touch. Food is a precious resource we never want to waste, which is why we’re committed to expanding Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue in all stores.

In 2017, 99% of our stores participated in the Food Rescue program at some point in the year.

Priority #3: Increase Food Loss Recycling Programs and Participation

Consistent with the Food Recovery Hierarchy, after feeding people, we feed animals or we find industrial uses and composting options to avoid disposing of food waste in landfills. Many of Kroger’s stores already have recycling programs in place that collect food waste to be used as animal feed or converted through composting. Our Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores leverage our anaerobic digester in Compton, Calif., to recycle organic waste, while other stores recycle food waste through partnerships with local vendors, facilities and farms.

At the end of 2017, 1,978 stores had food waste recycling programs in place and this number continues to climb as we find food recycling opportunities in the regions where we operate.

Priority #4: Work with Manufacturing and Logistics to Measure and Manage Food Waste

Following the EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy, Kroger is using data insights to maximize food's value at every stage in our operations. With measurement and prevention as our foundation, we will work across our business to identify innovative opportunities to decrease the food waste we generate and to divert what is left away from landfill.

Priority #5: Work with Farmers and Customers to Reduce Waste

Kroger will work with our suppliers and supply chain to better understand food waste impacts and where we can partner to decrease that waste. And we’ll engage our customers through communications and product and service offerings to decrease their food waste impacts at home and work.