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At Progressive Grocer, we've received several calls and e-mails from retailers who want to get involved with environmental sustainability, but don't exactly know where to start.
While we'll continue to do our job reporting on the latest trends and initiatives in this area, there's now a strategic guide designed to provide the industry with a detailed road map to implement a wide range of sustainability programs benefiting the environment, employee and customer health, and society. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) launched this "Sustainability Starter Kit" just weeks ago, noting that the strategies and practices described in the materials should make a "sustainable impact on the bottom line."
The guide is designed for companies of all sizes and at different stages in designing sustainability initiatives, according to Arlington, Va.-based FMI. It features numerous examples of successful programs at food retailers, wholesalers, and companies outside the industry.
The kit leads companies through the following six phases of program development:
Find the Right Place to Start: Shows companies how to align sustainability efforts with core business goals, name a leader, form a cross-functional team, and identify the opportunities presented in the company's operating environment, including consumer expectations and the competition.
Opportunities and Risks Associated With Sustainability: Describes how to develop the business case based on an assessment of social and environmental trends. This includes how to use the effective analysis tool AUDIO, a discipline to review an Aspect such as energy; its Upstream source and Downstream use; Issues to resolve, such as cost; and Opportunities in how to reduce use, sell energy-efficient products, and educate consumers, just to name three examples.
Sustainability Strategy Development: Shows companies how to integrate sustainability into business strategies and objectives.
Establishing Goals and Metrics: Demonstrates how to measure progress in achieving sustainability goals and the associated financial objectives.
Implementation of Plans: Covers how to engage senior management and employees companywide, monitor progress, and publicly report the results.
External Engagement -- Illustrates how to partner with suppliers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), investors, and customers.
In addition, the Starter Kit includes an extensive glossary of sustainability terms and list of resources. To purchase a copy ($195 for FMI retailer/wholesaler members, $245 for FMI associate members, and $395 for nonmembers), contact the FMI Store at (202) 220-0723 or www.fmi.org/store/.
For retailers interested in learning more in a face-to-face setting, FMI held its first-ever Food Industry Sustainability Summit from June 16 to June 19 in Minneapolis. The event brought together leaders from all sectors of the food industry, other businesses and government, and sustainability advocates. It covered the broader issues, and also included specific examples of how sustainability works in areas such as energy, seafood, produce, store development and design, packaging, marketing, customer relations, transportation, and logistics.