Trend Watch: Retailers and Sustainability

Trend Watch: Retailers and Sustainability

December 7, 2022
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

When assessing consumer interest in health and wellbeing, sustainability and planet health definitely enter the mix. According to IFIC’s 2022 Food and Health Survey, nearly 40 percent of Americans say environmental sustainability has an impact on their decision to buy certain foods and beverages, up from 27 percent in 2019. Interest in sustainability is higher in younger generations with 73 percent of Gen Z believing their cohort is more concerned about the impact of food choices on the environment that other generations.

To continue to engage their shoppers as well as their shareholders, retailers are getting more active in sustainable sourcing and packaging and making long-term commitments in this space. Consider the following retail programs as you assess how sustainability aligns within your health and wellbeing programs and services.

  • Target Forward. This retailer indicates their sustainability vision is “to co-create an equitable and regenerative future together with our guests, partners and communities.” The primary focuses of the initiate are to design and elevate sustainable brands, which includes commitments to more sustainable packaging; partnering across the value chain to eliminate waste; and accelerate opportunity and equity, which includes diversity and inclusivity goals for Target’s team and business. Full details on Target Forward are available here.
  • Publix has a digital sustainability storefront that shows viewers how the company is living out their tagline “Green isn’t just our color, it’s our commitment.” The site includes information on everything from charging stations to water conservation efforts to various recycling programs.  Publix is also a founding member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill program, which focuses on using refrigerants that are friendlier to the environment. In 2021, the company diverted 28,000 tons of food waste byproducts from their manufacturing facilities and has done work to bring hydrophonic farming operations to their stores.
  • Grounded in Goodness at Ahold Delhaize. Interestingly, this retailer has incorporated sustainability and health into one umbrella program, and indicates they use “marketing, reward programs and store designs to ensure that what’s health and sustainable is affordable, accessible and inclusive for all” and that they “use innovation to make products even more nutritious, interesting and varied.” Their efforts include focus on increasing sales of healthier own brand products, reducing food waste, sustainable packaging, and reductions in carbon emissions.