As Canada’s top food-rescue partner, we donated more than 23M pounds of surplus food to charities
More than half of the food produced in Canada goes to waste, yet one in seven Canadian families struggles with food insecurity. Tackling surplus food is an important way to ensure more people get the meals they need to live healthy lives while also reducing environmental and social impacts.
Fiscal 2023 Performance Highlights
reduction in food waste in our stores—over halfway to our target of achieving 50% reduction in food waste by 2025
pounds of surplus food donated to local charities from our stores and warehouses through our partnership with Second Harvest
pounds of GHG averted as a result of food donations
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 work with like-minded partners to reduce food waste in our stores and supply chain, ensure surplus food makes its way to the tables of families who are in need, and track the incredible food rescue and donation programs already in place at our stores across the country.
Our food waste reduction strategy has three areas of focus:
Preventing Food Loss and Waste
Some of the big challenges we face in this area include building awareness, cultivating new behaviours, and providing tools and systems that can empower our teams and customers to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and match surplus food from donor organizations with community and charitable organizations such as food banks.
We have implemented a multi-tiered food waste prevention program that all managers are expected to execute in our stores daily. This includes:
Equipping store managers with consistent foundational knowledge and skills.
Fresh Item Management
Training teammates on a variety of fresh item management systems, which use advanced analytical tools to optimize fresh food production levels by providing accurate production levels for store-made items.
Computer Automated Ordering
Using computer-generated ordering to assist with more accurate ordering and tracking of products. Data is used to generate automated orders that keep our stores in stock, while preventing over-ordering and food waste.
Exit Strategies or Repurposing
Finding creative solutions to use up surplus ingredients. Foods that would traditionally go to waste are being repurposed into delicious snacks, meals and side dishes.
Our Reduction Policy arms our stores with the ability to manage their counters in a controlled and effective manner. Specifically, this policy provides guidance to stores to manage instances of surplus food, such as from over-production, by selling at reduced prices and thereby preventing food waste.
Redistributing Surplus Food—National Food-Rescue Program
To make progress towards our goal to reduce food waste by 50 per cent across our operations by 2025, we partner with Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food-rescue organization. This partnership has a national approach to implementation and to measuring our impact, while still empowering our stores to choose and partner with regional and local non-profit partners who understand community needs—something they have been doing for years, leading to longstanding relationships with food banks and charitable organizations.
We have successfully deployed the Second Harvest Food Rescue App across Canada, connecting families in need with non-profit organizations that have received fresh, healthy food, while also reducing surplus food. We have also onboarded all our Retail Support Centres, including our Customer Fulfillment Centre for our e-commerce business, Voilà. We expanded the project scope to include Needs convenience and fuel sites. In fiscal 2024 we aim to rollout the program to all our Quebec stores, including full-service and community banners.
One of the many benefits of our national food-rescue program is that it makes it easier for our stores to donate surplus, perishable food from nutrient-dense food categories, such as produce, dairy and meat/proteins. We’ve made progress on donating more nutrient-dense foods by providing clear donation guidelines and connecting our stores and warehouses with a wider network of local organizations. Indeed, over 60 per cent of our surplus food donations in fiscal 2023 were produce, dairy and meat /fish. Knowing that these specific types of food also have the highest environmental impact, it’s even more important to divert them from landfills.
This chart illustrates the categories rescued for all grocery store brands (Sobeys, Thrifty Foods, Safeway, Foodland, IGA, Freshco, Farm Boy, Longo’s), Needs Convenience and Wholesale Fuel, warehouses, and Voilà Customer Fulfillment Centres from May 2022 to May 2023.
Raising Awareness With Our Customers to Rescue Food at Home
In addition to our work with Second Harvest, we also continue to build awareness with our customers through ongoing campaigns about how to reduce food waste.
We partnered with Circular Innovation Council to create a customer-facing campaign promoting a range of waste-reduction behaviours and opportunities during Waste Reduction Week and beyond. We also encouraged customers to adopt the fourth “R”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rescue.
Our teams in Quebec and New Brunswick partnered with the Fonds Éco IGA to host a series of educational workshops for customers, providing them with tips and resources that help individuals reduce their food waste. The seventh year of the Food Fight program was completed in September 2022, bringing the total participants participation to approximately 20,000 people since 2015.
Looking ahead, we will broaden our efforts to reduce food waste along our supply chains, continuing to partner with our suppliers and others to drive progress.
Learn more on Food Rescue
Canada’s Top Food-Rescue Partner with Second Harvest
Sobeys was recognized as Second Harvest’s Partner of the Year for 2022 for donating 15 million pounds of surplus food (amount based on Second Harvest’s fiscal year). In addition to helping families in need access healthy foods, our donations are on track to rescue an estimated 31 million pounds of food annually and divert approximately 41 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year, the equivalent of taking more than 8,600 cars off the road.
Expanding FoodHero Access
Our partnership with the FoodHero mobile app enables our store teams to divert surplus food by offering it at discounted prices. The app makes it easier for customers to save up to 60 per cent on proteins, baked goods, produce and more. In fiscal 2023 we continued to focus on in-store FoodHero operations and staff training, resulting in more food being saved every week. We also expanded the availability of the FoodHero app in more grocery stores in Quebec, with its deployment in Rachelle Béry and expansion to Traditions and Bonichoix stores.
It took me less than 15 minutes to set the donation schedule up. It was almost too easy. The day I set up my first donation, an organization I didn’t know existed claimed it and we started a new partnership. … Instead of sending the unpurchased food to the garbage it goes to the cooler and gets picked up within an hour or two. There were no hurdles.”
Pierre Monette, Foodland Franchise Operator, Ridgetown Ontario
As a family nurturing families, we want to ensure Canadians are taken care of today, tomorrow and in the future. By doing OurPart™ for the environment, we hope to inspire our customers to do theirs. Every step we take together—big or small—can make a difference.Learn More