After a successful first year, and continued heroic efforts by frontline grocery workers and other staff, FMI-The Food Industry Association is bringing back Supermarket Employee Day in 2022.
FMI said Tuesday that the industrywide campaign, which made its debut in 2021 to recognize the efforts of the grocery sector’s workforce, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will again be held on Feb. 22 and become an annual event. FMI noted that the Supermarket Employee Day’s return reflects the enthusiastic response to its launch earlier this year, including participation from nearly every level of FMI membership, from retailers and wholesalers to suppliers and state association partners.
The latter includes extensive volunteerism, as 83% of supermarket associates engage in community support and building local ties through educational, philanthropic, public health and advocacy efforts. In 2020, for example, food retailers provided more than 1.5 billion meals to food insecure Americans via the Feeding America, accounting for the largest private donation stream to food bank network. In addition, the grocery industry supplies jobs. When many businesses were forced to close their doors or lay off workers, supermarkets expanded their employee count by 10% in 2020, or approximately 500,000 people, FMI reported.
“Grocery stores are a critical part of the fabric of our communities. They are the essential pipeline in providing the food and consumer goods necessary to sustain the health and well-being of their friends, neighbors and customers,” Sarasin said in a statement. “As the global pandemic persists, supermarket employees remain committed to providing the services, resources and support families need to stay nourished, safe and healthy.”
FMI noted that Supermarket Employee Day events and programs ran the gamut this year, including state and local proclamations, programs inviting customers to nominate supermarket heroes, reward sweepstakes, video tributes, headquarters celebrations, appreciation campaigns across the supply chain, social media campaigns and in-store activities. As in the initial campaign, FMI is serving up a suite of Supermarket Employee Day tools and resources that brands can use to mark the occasion.
“With more than 40,000 stores that sell food and grocery items in the U.S. alone, there are millions of hardworking frontline heroes to celebrate,” Sarasin added. “FMI looks forward to honoring them once again on this exciting and necessary holiday and calls on all members of the food industry to join the celebration on Feb. 22, 2022, Supermarket Employee Day.”
Given all that the grocery industry and the nation have gone through since the onset of COVID in early 2020, seldom does a company earnings report go by without an executive starting or ending the discussion with a thank-you to employees.
“We're navigating the uncertainties of the times — inflation, product supply, labor challenges, to name a few — with agility and creativity. Our strong performance year-to-date and continuing positive trends give us the confidence to reach our full year 2021 outlook,” Albertsons Cos. President and CEO Vivek Sankaran said during the grocer’s second-quarter earnings call in mid-October. “None of this would be possible without the efforts of our 285,000 associates, who take care of our customers and the communities we serve day in and day out. I want to thank each and every one of them for their contributions to our ongoing success.”
Likewise, during Ahold Delhaize’s third-quarter earnings call earlier this month, CEO Frans Muller recognized employees for their extra efforts amid a difficult operating environment. “The pandemic continues to underpin the importance of maintaining food and product supplies to local communities, a vital role that we remain focused on fulfilling,” Muller said. “And we remain thankful for the efforts of associates who have put a consistent emphasis on safety while at the same time providing great customer service and community support.”