On this page
Food waste is a major social and environmental issue in Canada. More than half of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten, amounting to almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food wasted each year at a cost of more than $17 billion.
At the same time, one in seven Canadian families struggles with food insecurity. As a national grocer, we have the reach and the responsibility to redirect surplus food from our supply chain into the communities who need it most. Our efforts will also help the planet by reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfills, where it contributes to the creation of methane – a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than CO2.
We are committed to reducing food waste in our operations by 50 per cent by 2025, measuring and reporting on our progress using the globally recognized Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard. To reach this target, we’re working with likeminded partners to reduce food waste in our stores and supply chain. Our food waste strategy has three areas of focus:
Preventing food loss and waste from happening in our stores, warehouses and across our supply chain through initiatives including in-store and app-based markdowns, marketing “ugly” produce and updating our operational practices and guidelines.
Re-use and re-distribution
Re-using and re-distributing as much surplus food as possible through donations and repurposing for people and animal use.
Alternatives to landfill
Finding alternative waste streams to landfill including composting.
50% reduction in food waste by 2025
As of the end of calendar year 2020, we have decreased the amount of surplus food generated per square foot in our retail stores by 24%, both corporate and franchise, since 2016.
Make it easier for our customers to access discounted perishable foods through the use of mobile technology
year-over-year increase in the number of participating stores using the FoodHero mobile app in our IGA stores in Quebec, and a 134% year-over-year increase in the number of items sold on the app.
Reuse and re-distribute as much surplus food as possible
Successfully piloted Second Harvest’s Food Rescue App in 16 stores in fiscal 2021, leading to a national partnership to rollout the platform in our stores across Canada.
To view our fiscal year 2021 sustainability metricsClick Here
How We’re Making a Difference
Partnering to Reduce In-store Food Waste
Continuing in our goal to reduce food waste and fight hunger, we’ve formed a national partnership with Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, to redirect surplus perishable food onto the tables of those in need across the country. Our shared goal is to divert 31 million pounds of food waste and approximately 41 million kilograms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually — the equivalent of taking more than 8,600 cars off the road for a year. Following a successful 2020 pilot at 16 stores, over the next 18 months we’ll rollout the Second Harvest Food Rescue platform in our Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods and Voilà banners. The platform empowers our store managers to easily connect with existing and new donation partners, including local foodbanks and other not-for-profit organizations. Through the Food Rescue app, we can alert partners when a donation is ready — and they can confirm once it’s collected. At the same time, we can get real-time data at the store, regional and national levels on our progress.
On a smaller scale, we’re also piloting a partnership with a Canadian food-waste innovation company to deal with food waste in stores ORCA has developed machines that use air, water and microbes — just like the human digestive system — to turn food waste into an eco-friendly liquid that is safe down the drain. This approach diverts food waste from landfills and reduces the emissions of waste-disposal trucks.
Helping Customers be Heroes
We know our customers want to work with us to reduce environmental impacts, so we’re always looking for new ways we can help them to save and spread the word. In Québec, we’ve launched the FoodHero mobile app at 200 IGA stores so customers can access discounted perishable foods that would otherwise go to waste. In fiscal year 2021, over 900,000 items weighing over 300,000 kg were diverted from going to waste thanks to our customers using the app. This hefty achievement is just the kind of message we like to share as part of our support for Love Food Hate Waste Canada, a national campaign that works with businesses, governments and community groups to inspire and empower Canadians to make their food go further and waste less. In October 2020, in recognition of #WasteReductionWeek in Canada, we launched a National Food Waste consumer-education campaign instore and online through many of our grocery banners to enable and inspire Canadians to reduce food waste in their own homes. We provided tips and tricks to help enjoy more taste and less waste, covering topics including storage, refrigeration, canning, freezing, dehydrating and portioning — reaching close to 150,000 Canadians through our social channels. Since 2015, we’ve partnered with the Food Fight program to provide free educational workshops about fighting food waste for people across Québec and New Brunswick.
Nurturing Smart Suppliers
Nova Scotia-based company Outcast Upcycled Nutrition takes “ugly,” unwanted produce and upcycles it into plant-based protein powders — meaning food that might otherwise have been destined for the trash gets a second chance to help you stay healthy. We spotted the potential of Outcast early on, partnering with the team to help them access food waste from one of our distribution centres and make their products available in select Nova Scotia stores. We’re always working hard to do the right thing by our suppliers, and, as the Outcast story shows, our suppliers are helping us to deliver on our sustainability goals.