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Podcast: PCC is more than just green, says CEO Cate Hardy

Foodservice and private label are key for Seattle food co-op

Welcome to SN Off the Shelf, a podcast series from Supermarket News.

In this twice-monthly feature, presented in a conversational format, SN editors will talk with industry executives, experts and other grocery players about the news, trends and issues that matter most to retailers and their business partners.

In this edition, SN talks with Cate Hardy, CEO of Seattle-based PCC Community Markets, the 12-store community food co-op well known for its environmental and sustainability initiatives — which include everything from its commitment to eliminate plastics from its delis by 2022 to its decision to stop selling Chinook salmon, a critical food for the region’s endangered orca population. (Check out PCC's latest store in this SN photo gallery.)

Hardy has been at the helm of PCC since 2015, and while justifiably proud of the retailer’s environmental profile, she reminded us that there’s more to PCC Community Markets than just that. Take its foodservice program, for example.

“We prepare foods from scratch in every store every day and prepared foods make up about 25% of our total store sales,” she told us. “Our focus throughout the store is on organic and natural ingredients, whether that’s grass-fed and sustainably raised meat and seafood, pastured eggs and other sustainable food products.”

She added, “As a co-op, we believe that consumer education is one of our core responsibilities. We have had cooking classes for decades and we focus on teaching people everything from basic knife skills to how to use the most sustainable products in their home cooking. We have hundreds of classes every single year ranging from camp classes for little kids to serving adults and teaching them all the various things about food nutrition and cooking.”

Hardy also shared with us her company’s focus on and success with private label, which she says “is unlike any other grocery that I'm familiar with. In most grocery stores, it’s almost impossible to identify who the maker of that private label item is. But we've taken a completely different approach at PCC. We actually celebrate the makers of our private labeling products.”

For more on the PCC approach to private label — as well as its foodservice program and, of course, its environmental efforts — listen to the latest episode of SN Off the Shelf.


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