Many food retailers have kickstarted their sustainability efforts with initiatives that will cover decarbonization, packaging, assortment, and social sustainability.
Recently, a survey of sustainability leaders from European and North American grocers suggested that two-thirds of grocers quantify their starting point and define concrete actions to address sustainability topics. Over 50% have defined concrete targets. Yet only half of the respondents were confident they could achieve their sustainability targets.
The problem is that grocers associate sustainability with high costs and have not solved the challenge of creating value through the "commercialization" of green activities, which has slowed progress.
They're also juggling other critical strategic transitions, like digitalization, so it's more challenging to set up collaboration with farmers and suppliers.
However, they realize that a strong sustainability strategy will inevitably reduce downside risks companies might otherwise face, meaning it can provide an important source of value for consumers in general.
The bottom line is that the food system requires fast and systemic change to become sustainable. Grocers can be an incredible driving force and create massive value, but this is still a challenge that requires immense leadership and focus through the organization.