Providence, Rhode Island-based United Natural Foods Inc. has released its 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report. It showcases the company’s commitments to building a brighter future, transforming today’s foodscape by delivering greater freedom of food choice and by taking innovative action on global social and environmental issues.
In the report, UNFI not only highlights the substantial progress made in 2020, including the creation of a CEO-led executive steering committee and completion of a full materiality assessment, but also outlines its strategic and data-driven 2030 goals which will accelerate positive and critical change over the next decade.
“As pioneers in our industry since 1976, leading by example on pressing social and environmental issues is both part of our DNA and our inherent responsibility,” said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI chairman and CEO. “UNFI made great strides in building our wholesale, services and brands business in 2020, while putting a heightened focus on issues such as the safety and well-being of our associates and the communities we serve. As we look to the future, we now have an exciting plan to pursue real solutions for climate change, food justice and insecurity as well as diversity and inclusion. We view ourselves as a force for positive change, helping to define the future of food.”
UNFI’s 10th annual edition of the report, which can be read at BetterForAll.UNFI.com, is guided by leading frameworks, including GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board). The report also includes the company’s first disclosure aligned to recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD).
2030 Vision: Better for All
UNFI’s 2030 agenda is centered on the theme “Better for All,” aligned to three pillars: Building Better for Our World, Our Communities and Our People. Better for All will act as a unifying message to inspire pride across UNFI and as an umbrella platform to share updates on its ESG progress in the months and years ahead.
Better for All focuses on six key priorities: climate action, waste reduction, food safety, food access, safety and well-being, and diversity and inclusion. To ensure progress against each of these areas, UNFI has established several consequential goals and commitments, including:
- Establish science-based emissions reduction targets covering operational and value chain emissions (scopes 1, 2 and 3) by 2022;
- 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2023;
- 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2025;
- Zero waste to landfill from distribution center operations by 2030;
- 30 percent reduction in distribution center energy intensity by 2030;
- Donate 250 million pounds of food – equivalent to approximately 208 million meals by 2030; and
- Log 200,000 associate volunteer hours by 2030.
Throughout 2020, UNFI took several steps to advance it’s ESG practices, including the following activities:
- Adopted robust, award-winning safety measures to continue to protect frontline associates during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Piloted its first all-electric solar powered refrigerated trailer with an eye toward further expansion;
- Announced new Paid Parental Leave benefits;
- Improved its CDP Climate Change response score to an A- through enhanced disclosures and actions to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks, and further the low-carbon economy;
- Achieved a 7 percent year-over-year improvement in food waste diverted from landfills; and
- Delivered 23 million pounds of donated food, equivalent to roughly 19 million meals.
“2020 was a pivotal year for ESG at UNFI. We completed a robust strategic planning process and significantly deepened our focus on key priorities,” said Alisha Real, UNFI director of sustainability and social impact. “The steps we will take over the next decade are critical to ensuring a future that is Better for All. UNFI impacts the lives of millions of people throughout North America, and we are dedicated to taking meaningful action by activating our 27,000 associates, 15,000 customers and more than 11,000 suppliers to accelerate progress toward achieving our near-term and 2030 commitments to transform the foodscape and our world.”
UNFI is a food wholesaler delivering the widest variety of products to customer locations throughout North America including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and food service customers. Today, UNFI is the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in the United States.