How Kroger’s ESG Efforts Stack Up

Retailer publishes annual ESG report and action plan
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Kroger Zero
In its 2022 ESG report, Kroger shares progress and new goals to help end hunger, reduce food waste and cut greenhouse gas emissions, among other missions.

Kroger has released a report card and a syllabus of sorts for its environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts. The retailer is out with its 2022 ESG report, "Nurturing Shared Values," summarizing progress on its efforts to date and sharing its updated action plan.

The report highlights Kroger’s comprehensive approach to ESG and provides an update on its formal strategy, "Thriving Together," which was put into place last year. Among other measures, the retailer has introduced a framework for action related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), committed to developing a human rights due diligence framework, pledged science-based targets for sustainability and finished its brands packaging footprint analysis.

[Read more: "Kroger Foundation Named As Leader in Fight Against Food Insecurity"]

"We live our purpose – to feed the human spirit – through Kroger's commitments to advance positive impacts for people and our planet and create more resilient global systems," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "We are proud to report that Kroger continues to make progress toward key ESG goals. I am especially proud of the Kroger team's collective effort to create communities free from hunger and food waste. Through Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, Kroger has donated billions of meals to help end hunger and millions of pounds of surplus fresh food to avoid waste. We are committed to expanding food access, affordability, and choice for all our customers."

To McMullen's point, the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social and environmental impact plan is at the center of Kroger’s ESG strategy. Since the plan was rolled out five years ago, the retailer has directed 2.3 billion meals to communities, including $1 billion in charitable support and 500 million pounds of surplus fresh food.

The report recapped other actions that have positively impacted the company’s ESG principles and goals. In its move to help people live healthier, more sustainable lifestyles, Kroger increased the average wage for hourly store associates to over $17, bringing the rate to more than $22 per hour when comprehensive benefits are included. In addition to providing millions in food and funds to nonprofit organizations through the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste mission, the retailer boosted offerings of better-for-you food options in its stores and promoted heart-healthy diets through nutrition counselling.

Summarizing sustainability strides, Kroger shared ways in which it protects and restores natural resources, from achieving a 9.1% cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2018 to reducing food waste generated in retail stores by 18.9% to sourcing products from more sustainable suppliers.

The organization also stepped up work to build more responsible and inclusive global systems. Examples include the retailer’s investment of $4 billion in diverse suppliers and extensive associate training on important governmental tops such as business ethics, DE&I and personal safety.

As part of the report, Kroger also provided updates on its ESG action plan. Several goals were shared, including more aggressive GHG reduction targets, a refreshed Human Rights Policy aligning with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and an updated Animal Welfare Policy. The animal welfare plan includes roadmaps for future milestones for the sourcing of products like fresh pork and cage-free or higher-welfare eggs. 

"With this updated action plan, we are seeking to address a wide range of complex social and environmental challenges, and setting ambitious impact targets," declared Keith Dailey, Kroger's group VP of corporate affairs and chief sustainability officer. "These commitments express Kroger's aspiration to make affordable fresh food even more accessible while advancing positive impacts for our communities and the planet.”

Kroger’s full ESG report is available online.

Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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