For Immediate Release, September 23, 2019

Contact:

Jennifer Molidor, (707) 888-9261, jmolidor@biologicaldiversity.org

Analysis: Seven of America's 10 Biggest Supermarkets Haven’t Committed to Zero Food Waste

OAKLAND, Calif.— Seven of the 10 largest grocery chains in the United States still have not taken the first step toward eliminating food waste by 2025, according to analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center’s report, Slow Road to Zero, is a follow-up report card on supermarket food waste. It evaluated common gaps and trends from the past year to focus on the most critical aspects of reducing that waste in the grocery sector. Despite increased attention on food waste, it found, there is still a lack of tracking and transparency in the sector. As a result the total amount of food wasted across the industry remains unknown, and meaningful steps to address the problem have not been made by most companies.

The majority of companies analyzed in the report also do not adequately utilize strategies to prevent food waste, instead relying on donation and recycling programs.

“It’s frustrating that so many of America’s biggest supermarkets are doing so little to reduce their enormous contribution to the food-waste crisis,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner at the Center and one of the report’s authors. “There’s been some important progress, but the grocery sector still hasn’t committed to preventing waste throughout its supply chains. Until that happens our food system will continue to do serious environmental damage.”

Forty percent of food produced in the United States goes to waste, and businesses that serve or sell food are responsible for 40 percent of food waste in the country, with retailers accounting for more waste than restaurants or food-service providers. Food waste has large-scale negative effects on wildlife, habitat, clean air and clean water, and the climate.

As the primary place where most Americans purchase food, supermarkets influence what makes it from farms to shelves, what happens to unsold food, and even how much and what types of food shoppers buy.

Today’s report analyzed key food-waste reduction commitments, policies and actions at 10 companies that, all told, operate more than 13,000 grocery stores across the country: Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, Kroger, Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods Market. The companies were graded on their efforts to address food waste, from tracking and publicly reporting data to initiatives such as selling “ugly” produce.

Here are the grades for each of the grocery chains:

  • Kroger, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize USA earned an A. They’re the only three grocery chains to publicly commit to zero food waste by 2025, and all have prioritized tracking food waste and prevention.
  • Aldi, Target and Whole Foods all earned a B. They have made commitments that are less ambitious than zero waste by 2025 and have begun implementing prevention strategies and tracking that are not yet company-wide or publicly reported.
  • Albertsons was the only store to earn a C. It has some food-waste reduction strategies in place but has yet to make a clear, companywide commitment to zero waste by 2025, publicly report food waste data or implement more effective prevention measures.
  • Costco, Publix and Trader Joe’s all earned a D. They lag behind much of the grocery industry by lacking public commitments, transparent data tracking and comprehensive prevention strategies.

“Customers want to buy their food from responsible companies,” said Molidor. “We’re calling on American supermarkets to do their part and commit to eliminating food waste by 2025. Ending food waste in the grocery sector could have a ripple effect that would help protect the environment, address hunger and save money.”

Slow Road To Zero Report Card
Report card design by Dipika Kabada, Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.