Kroger is running a TV and radio ad campaign to raise awareness of its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative, which aims to end hunger in the neighborhoods the retailer operates in and eliminate company waste by 2025, according to a company release. The ads will run through the holiday season in 191 U.S. media markets.
Kroger is teaming with Feeding America and the World Wildlife Fund to meet this goal and is also asking its stakeholders, partners and communities for solutions, feedback and best practices.
- "We acknowledge the absurdity that one in eight people struggle with hunger while 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes to waste. That just doesn't make sense to us," Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement. "And this season, we are grateful for our associates and trusted partners who are committed to doing something about it."
In 2011, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association established the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a coalition of manufacturers and retailers seeking to reduce food waste through recycling, charitable donations and other means. Kroger has been on board, meeting or exceeding many of the goals it set out to achieve per its Zero Waste 2020 sustainability initiatives.
Kroger knows that a growing number of consumers — especially millennials — prefers to patronize companies which align with their values. These include healthy food, clean labels, recycling and less food waste. The company also benefits financially by cutting waste in its retail outlets and all along the supply chain. Businesses lose a collective $940 billion annually on food waste, according to Champions 12.3, a coalition of retailers, manufacturers, advocates and government entities. If even a small amount of that were cut back, part of the savings could go toward lowering prices at the retail level.
The ad campaign's timing is also good since people often feel more generous around the holidays. However, it's hard to see how one company — even if it's the largest supermarket chain in the country — can make much of a dent against hunger and food waste without other major players in the food and retail grocery industries signing on as well.
Some retailers here and abroad have taken steps to reduce waste. British supermarket chain Waitrose uses fuel made from food waste to power its eco-friendly delivery trucks. Whole Foods’ staff sorts food waste at the retailer’s stores. Last year Trader Joe’s donated $341 million worth of goods to food banks, and other supermarkets are implementing ugly produce programs to reduce fresh food waste. All of that is a good start, but clearly more is needed.
Even if no tangible impact is achieved by this ad campaign, at least more people will be aware of how large hunger and food waste problems are — and Kroger will be putting its money where its mouth is.