Kroger Strikes Balance in Sustainability Efforts

WASHINGTON — Kroger Co. [4] takes a balanced approach to sustainability communications in order to serve the needs of its varied customer base, said Nate Shepley Streed, the Cincinnati-based retailers’ sustainability manager, corporate brands.

He outlined this direction during a panel session at the Food Marketing Institute/Grocery Manufacturers Association Sustainability Summit here.

“Transparency is crucial in this space, and I think you’ll see growing education and awareness,” he said in response to a question about traceability.

“As a retailer, we need to find that happy medium where you provide that information to those engaged customers to understand traceablity, and then they can make their decision at the point of sale.”

The information can be provided through a growing number of means, including online, a QR code or something else, he said.

Read more: Kroger Recognized for Energy Efficiency [5]

However, he cautioned that Kroger needs to avoid flooding its shoppers through information overload.
“You don’t want to over-communicate, whether on packaging or in-store, to someone who just wants to run in and get what they want and won’t be influenced in their purchasing decision by this information,” he said.

Another case of striking a balance involves decisions on which parts of the business to target for local sourcing initiatives, he said.

“We have over two dozen banner brands, so we look within our individual divisions to see where we can have the greatest impact,” he said.

“Obviously, we need to have scale. But we continually lift up small, local suppliers, especially in our perishables, because we just feel that’s an emotional attachment to the community.

“So again, we’re trying to find that happy medium where we’re getting that transparency in those different spaces.”

Streed spoke on a panel that included Scott Mushkin, managing director and senior equity research analyst, Jefferies & Co. The panel was focused on Millennials and their preferences, but some of the question-and-answer session addressed sustainability trends in general.

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