The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: SuperValu

Sustainability Series: SuperValu


October 25, 2009

For over 135 years, SuperValu has worked hard to provide their customers with value, quality, variety and convenience. Their 2006 acquisition of Albertsons helped propel the company to the position of the third-largest grocery retailing company in the U.S. With annual revenues of $37.4 billion, the SuperValu family, which includes regional brands Bristol Farms, Albertsons, Acme, Farm Fresh, Cub and Bigg’s, now boasts 2,500 country-wide retail locations and approximately 200,000 employees. We talked to Rick Crandall, Director of Environmental Stewardship for SuperValu, about the importance of delivering the right products at the right price with the right message.

How does your business define sustainability?

We at SuperValu agree with the general definition created by the FMI Sustainability Task Force and the Food Market Institute, which encapsulates the true meaning of being good Stewards of the Environment:

Actions, lifestyles and products that meet current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Business strategies and practices that promote the long-term well being of the environment, society and the bottom line.   

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

SuperValu has created an Enterprise Environmental Steering Committee to help guide the overall Environmental principles across all of its banners, while also setting the company’s long term goals that will not only help SuperValu but all retailers in a leadership role of protecting our natural resources. I have been fortunate to be a part of the committee since its inception.

What are your short term and long term goals?

SuperValu has announced its short term goals which will take us through 2014. They cover the Environment, our associates and customers.

  • To make steady progress in reducing our carbon footprint over the next five years.
  • To reduce our landfill waste by 50 percent in five years.
  • To build a "green" culture with SUPERVALU associates through education, communication and engagement.
  • To provide "green" products and services to our customers that support them in meeting their personal environmental goals.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

We hope to have a major impact to all four of these areas. It would be irresponsible for us to think that any one of the four areas is less valuable, or has less importance, than the other.

How do you measure your progress?

Our progress for the carbon footprint and waste stream reductions are measured year over year and to our baseline metrics, which are based on adjusted annual sales. We annually survey our associates to understand our progress in our training and communication around all of our Environmental programs. We also monitor many of our customer initiatives to evaluate our progress.

In 2009 here in Southern California we will recycle or eliminate from our waste stream over 137,000,000 pounds that would have in the past gone into the local landfills. We currently recycle regular cardboard (100,000,000 lbs), waxed cardboard (2,200,000 lbs), miscellaneous fiber (950,000 lbs), soft plastic (3,000,000 lbs) and hard plastic (985,000 lbs), and we donate through our Fresh rescue program over 30,000,000 lbs.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

We don’t measure ourselves to our competitors, as we want all retailers to win in the war against Environmental abuse. In addition to our own internal development, we also look at our competitors to understand best practices with the hope to implement new initiatives with less cost and greater success to achieve our goals before 2014.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

Retailers today are starting to understand that being or going GREEN is not an expense. In fact, in many areas it can reduce expenses and increase revenues. We at SuperValu, in the Environmental department, live by the following motto:

Efficiency = Sustainability

  • How can we do more with less?
  • How can we be sustainable?
  • How can SUPERVALU be more sustainable?

The most efficient company wins.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Customer research data continues to drive the fact that today’s consumers make more and more decisions in their lives around Environmental factors. Companies must stay on top of Environmental factors surrounding their business to support their customers’ needs and wants. This doesn’t mean that companies can just talk about being green or buy credits to be green or even throw money at green projects. It means truly having a plan and creating a green culture that will look at operating a business in a whole new way and being able to communicate these actions to its customers.

Environmental Stewardship is a subset of Sustainability, which is a subset of Corporate Responsibility. It encompasses the actions that we take as Albertsons/SuperValu, the actions we drive with our suppliers and the actions we enable our customers to perform. Our goal is to communicate to our customers what Environmental Stewardship means to us and the future of our business.


In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact Allison Bloom