Store tours involving sustainability initiatives, such as this one in Aurora, Colo., are part of efforts by the Food Marketing Institute Sustainability Task Force.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has announced resources, consumer research, and educational events to help the industry implement sustainability programs. The announcement came from FMI’s Sustainability Task Force, which was formed to help food retailers and wholesalers integrate sustainability into their operations wherever possible and practical.

“Our mission is to help companies chart a course to help preserve the planet through initiatives that make sense economically. The task force has already made considerable progress in creating a platform for food retailers and wholesalers,” said Bob Garrity, senior vice president of construction and conservation at Giant Eagle Inc., who chairs the 22-member task force.

FMI senior director Jeanne von Zastrow is leading FMI’s sustainability effort. At a recent meeting, the task force reviewed accomplishments and future plans.


Among materials being offered is “The Sustainability Opportunity for Retail and Wholesale Executives,” a PowerPoint presentation explaining the concept and why it is important to food retailers and wholesalers. Companies can customize this document for internal use. It is available free to the industry on the FMI Website.

“The Sustainability Starter Kit” is a resource to help retailers craft a baseline sustainability strategy, recognizing that companies will take different paths. It suggests where to begin, opportunities, and risks; metrics to measure progress; how to overcome barriers; and methods to engage outside parties such as suppliers, consumers, government agencies, advocates, and investors.

It features best practices and includes a list of organizations and experts in the sustainability arena that companies can contact. This kit will be released at the 2008 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, Jan. 13-15 in Scottsdale, Ariz. It is sponsored by Hill Phoenix, Georgia-Pacific LLC, and JohnsonDiversey.


“Sustainability and Recycling in the Food Industry” is a report that explores shopper practices and attitudes about these topics and how the industry is responding, drawing upon sustainability programs by task force members. The insights into shoppers are based on a Harris Poll® of more than 2,300 consumers in June conducted for FMI. It is also available at the FMI Website.

Research performed by Catalina Marketing exclusively for FMI shows how consumers practice sustainability in their lifestyles and buying habits. It shows the market-basket value of the green consumer, according to the researchers.

This work complements recent research based on consumer surveys and focus groups done by The Hartman Group for the industry. PowerPoint presentations providing an overview of both studies are available free on the FMI Website.


Store tours and presentations featuring innovative sustainability have been included in FMI conferences and seminars. A major presentation on sustainability has been planned for the 2008 Midwinter Executive Conference. PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi will keynote this event, presenting a broad vision of sustainability as it relates to humans; products that promote health, wellness, and the environment; practices that conserve and replenish natural resources; and how to create a workplace that helps associates achieve a better quality of life.

There will also be a panel called “Sustainability Tools You Can Use” showcasing specific ideas, strategies, and best practices by retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers. Garrity will introduce the Starter Kit, and Ruth Kinzey, senior vice president, communication and public affairs, The Stop & Shop Company, will share her retailer’s sustainability efforts.

A keynote presentation at the 2008 FMI Show May 4-7 in Las Vegas will feature business sustainability advocate Andrew Winston, author of “Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value and Build Competitive Advantage.”

The first FMI Sustainability Summit is planned for June 16-19, 2008, in Minneapolis. This event will bring together leaders from the food industry, business, government, sustainability advocacy programs, and others. It will cover the topic in general and provide specific and practical examples of how the concept works in areas such as energy, seafood, produce, store development and design, packaging, marketing, customer relations, transportation, and logistics. FMI plans to host such summits annually.

According to FMI, companies represented on the Task Force are Buehler Food Markets, Giant Eagle, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Hannaford Bros., Harris Teeter, Hy-Vee, The Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets, Safeway, Schnuck Markets, The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, Supervalu, Target Corp., Ukrop’s Super Markets, Unified Western Grocers, and Wegmans Food Markets.

The FMI Website is Companies seeking more information about FMI's sustainability initiatives should contact FMI Senior Director Jeanne von Zastrow at 435-259-3342 or

Publication Date:11/05/2007