At a time when environmental consciousness is at the forefront of consumer concerns, businesses are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices. Sobeys, one of Canada’s leading grocery retailers and Second Harvest’s longstanding partner, has stepped up to the challenge. The company is making significant strides on its sustainability journey by addressing food surplus at both national and local levels.
Sobeys has achieved a 32% reduction in food waste within its retail operations, a milestone toward its goal of a 50% reduction by 2025.In 2023, Sobeys Inc. rescued over 31 million pounds of food across all locations, achieving the public commitment it set in 2021. Driving the progress is a sustainability mindset adopted throughout the company’s operations.
At the national level, Sobeys has implemented a comprehensive strategy to minimize food waste throughout its supply chain. The company embraces technology and data analytics to optimize inventory management to reduce overstock and ensure that products move efficiently from farm to shelf. Store managers are actively involved in a food waste prevention program which includes training in foundational skills and knowledge, as well as finding creative solutions to repurpose surplus food.
Also key to Sobeys’ progress is the national partnership with Second Harvest. Last year, about 80% of Sobeys Inc. stores across the country used the Second Harvest Food Rescue App to donate over than 31 million pounds of surplus food to social service organizations in nearly 900 communities. In the process, the company prevented 54.5 million kg of harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of emissions from 16,000 cars.
The app streamlines the process of rescuing and redistributing surplus food and empowers each store to take action against hunger in its own community by building lasting partnerships with local non-profits. Almost 85% of Sobeys stores have made a donation through the app, and some have been supporting the same social service organization since 2021.
“Sobey’s Islington and Bloor is a great location to pick up a food rescue donation for produce, grains and a variety of meats, mostly chicken and pork. Sobey’s Islington and Bloor provides the much needed aid for our charity’s outreach food and meal program.”
– Dowling Community Service Residence –
Looking ahead, Sobeys will continue to work closely with Second Harvest to encourage stores to fight food insecurity while aiming to meet their ambitious sustainability goals. The company provides an open channel of communications, allowing our representatives to get in touch with stores to understand their concerns and answer questions. Some locations go the extra mile, offering speaking opportunities for Second Harvest at their meetings to conduct training and education on the importance of food rescue and food waste reduction.
We’re thrilled to see Sobeys’ progress on its sustainability journey. By tackling food waste at both national and local levels, the company is making a positive impact on the environment and the communities it serves.
Editor’s Note: Food waste isn’t just a Canadian problem – it’s a global issue with devastating impacts on climate change and hunger. All over the world, countries struggle to ensure good food ends up on plates instead of landfills, and many have developed unique strategies to face this crisis head-on.
In this series of articles, The Harvest Journal will explore food waste policies around the world and highlight what different countries are doing to prevent and reduce waste, build more sustainable and resilient food systems, protect our planet and finally put an end to food waste. We previously covered Japan, Finland, Korea and France.
In recent years, the Danish government, businesses and communities have come together to implement initiatives to create a more sustainable future. Between 2010 and 2015, it reduced its food waste by 25%, valued at about 4.4 billion DDK. This success is largely attributable to changing consumer habits. Here’s how the country did it.
Public and private initiatives
At the forefront of Denmark’s food waste revolution is the movement Stop Spild Af Mad, which translates to “Stop Wasting Food.” Founded by activist Selina Juul in 2008, this non-profit organization has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about food waste and promoting practical solutions. Through campaigns, educational programs and collaborations with businesses, Stop Spild Af Mad has encouraged individuals and companies to take responsibility for their consumption habits.
This movement is supported by Danish consumers, Members of the European Parliament, Members of Danish Parliament, top Danish chefs, and food personalities. The Danish Consumer Council has also initiated a campaign to increase consumer awareness of food waste.
To foster collaboration between the private and public sectors, the Danish Ministry of the Environment established a voluntary “Initiative Group Against Food Waste” in 2011. This laid the groundwork for the “Charter on Less Food Waste,” signed by 19 major stakeholders affirming their commitment.
Innovative retail practices
In 2016, non-profit organization Folkekirkens Nødhjælp (DanChurchAid) launched WeFood, Denmark’s first surplus food supermarket. The concept is simple yet effective. The store collects surplus food from supermarkets, farmers and other suppliers that would otherwise go to waste due to cosmetic imperfections, short shelf life, or overproduction. Customers can then purchase these perfectly edible items at about 30 to 50% lower than the original price. From one location in Copenhagen, there are now 6 WeFood stores all across Denmark.
Also in 2016, the Danish tech startup “Too Good To Go” launched a mobile app aimed at connecting consumers with businesses to rescue surplus food at the end of the day. The app allows restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores to sell unsold, but still fresh and quality food at a discounted price, preventing it from being discarded. It’s currently available in 17 countries, including Canada.
Danish supermarkets, warehouses and mini-markets create 45,676 tonnes of food waste per year, and several have begun to look for ways to curb this. For example, Supermarket chains REMA 1000, Coop and LIDL no longer offer quantity discounts to prevent people from buying more than they need. Since bread is often the largest source of food waste (about 29,000 tonnes of bread and cakes are thrown away every year), REMA 1000 reduces the size of its house-brand bread by 40 to 50%, which in turn lowers its price.
By addressing food waste from multiple angles – awareness campaigns, collaborative partnerships, and technological solutions – Denmark serves as an inspiring example for other countries seeking effective strategies to reduce food waste and build a more sustainable future.
The Second Harvest Sweepstakes, presented by Moneris, is back from February 6 to March 7, 2024. Each ticket purchase not only places participants in the running for great prizes but also supports Second Harvest’s food rescue and redistribution efforts.
Last year’s line-up included 16 prizes, ranging from luxury resort stays to state-of-the-art household appliances. We reached out to two winners and asked them to share their experiences with the prizes they won.
Two lower bowl tickets to watch the Toronto Raptors as they took on the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, April 9, 2023 for the last home game of the season. Package also included a two-night stay at the Residence Inn Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District, and a $1,000 CAD prepaid credit card to assist with travel expenses.
Courtesy of: MLSE, Easton’s Group of Hotels, and Anonymous | Value: $2,800.00
What prize did you want to win when you bought the tickets?
Honestly, I wasn’t looking at the prizes to be won. I was just interested in donating to the cause.
How did you feel when you won this prize?
I was so surprised to hear that I had won the prize, so it was very exciting.
How was the game?
My husband and I found the game very exciting and entertaining with lots going on in between times. Our seats were amazing! It was a lot of fun to experience the atmosphere of the game.
How was the stay at the Residence Inn Toronto? What did you like most about your stay there?
It was our first time staying at a Residence Inn and as our experience was positive, we have since stayed at another Residence Inn on a subsequent trip to another city. The hotel was very comfortable and convenient to ScotiaBank Arena. The room included a full hot breakfast which was definitely a bonus!
What did you do during your trip in Toronto? What was the highlight of this trip?
We were able to visit and spend some time with our daughter who lives in Toronto. The highlight of the trip really was the experience of watching an NBA game. It was a wonderful treat to get away for a few days with all expenses paid.
2023 Prize: Vancouver Canucks Experience
Two lower bowl seats to watch the Canucks play at their home rink in Vancouver B.C. in the 2023/2024 season. Package also included two Canucks Jerseys, a two-night stay at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, and a $1,000 CAD prepaid credit card to assist with travel expenses.
Courtesy of The Aquilini Beverage Group and Anonymous | Value: $3,110.00
What prize did you want to win when you bought the tickets?
The prize I hope to win was the one to Vancouver for the Canucks. My family lives in Victoria. And I would have loved to have taken them to see the Canucks.
How did you feel when you won this prize?
I never expected to get it. When I saw them all, I thought “Oh, those are all nice. Wouldn’t it be nice if I got this one?” And then I forgot about it completely.
How was the game?
I took my son and my two grandsons. The game was excellent. The Canucks won. Everything was just perfect.
How was the stay at the hotel? What did you like most about your stay there?
The hotel was beautiful. The room was huge and excellent. We even used the hot tub in the outdoor area. We ordered appetizers and drinks from the hotel’s deli. It was a very, very nice day.
What did you do during your trip in Vancouver? What was the highlight of this trip?
Because it was close to Halloween, we visited many costume shops to see if we could get costumes for the boys, which we did. I bought them their Halloween costumes with the $1,000 Visa card. The highlight of this trip was definitely the game.
While one-time donations undoubtedly contribute to a cause you support, there is a growing recognition of the unique and transformative power that monthly donors hold. The decision to become a monthly donor is a commitment that goes beyond mere financial support – it represents hope and a determination to make a positive change.
Here’s why you should consider becoming a monthly donor to a charity organization.
Consistent and larger impact
Monthly donors provide a steady and reliable stream of income for the charity. This allows the organization to plan and implement long-term projects with greater confidence, knowing they have a stable source of funding. Since processing monthly donations typically involves less administrative work compared to individual one-time donations, more of your money goes directly to the cause.
Monthly donations are often set up as automatic transactions, making it convenient for donors. You don’t have to remember to make a donation each month, and it’s also easier on your budget. Regular contributions can be easier to track for tax purposes, and you can be eligible for tax deductions for charitable giving.
On the other hand, you’ll have the flexibility to change or pause your contributions if your financial circumstances change.
Deeper engagement with the cause
Many charities offer special perks or exclusive updates to their monthly donors. At Second Harvest, this can include newsletters, impact reports, or even invitations to special events.
By joining our community of monthly donors, the Heart of the Harvest, you can witness the tangible impact of your contributions unfolding over time, actively participating in the real-world changes you help bring about. This connection generates profound fulfillment, cultivating a sense of shared purpose and satisfaction in the knowledge that your contributions are making a lasting difference.
In a world where sustainability is increasingly becoming a top priority, addressing the issue of food waste at the household level is an important step towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. One effective way to approach this challenge is by setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Let’s explore how to make food waste reduction in your household a SMART goal.
To make your goal specific, clearly define what aspect of food waste reduction you want to address. Instead of a vague goal like “reduce food waste,” specify whether you want to focus on reducing kitchen scraps, unused groceries or leftovers. For example, your specific goal could be, “Reduce kitchen scraps by composting and recycling organic waste.” or “Making sure all items on my groceries list find a use.”
Establish measurable criteria to track your progress. Without measurable targets, it’s challenging to gauge whether you’re making a significant impact. Consider quantifiable metrics, such as the percentage reduction in food thrown away. For instance, “Decrease weekly food waste by 25% within the next two months.” or “Complete a food waste audit.”
Ensure that your goal is realistic and attainable. Setting overly ambitious goals may lead to frustration and discouragement. Assess your household’s current practices, available resources and your commitment level. If you currently waste a significant amount of food, a more achievable goal might be, “Gradually decrease food waste by 10% each month.”
Make sure your goal aligns with your overall commitment to sustainability and your household’s priorities. If composting aligns with your values, make that a central part of your goal. For instance, “Incorporate composting into our daily routine to align with our commitment to environmental stewardship.”
Set a realistic timeframe for achieving your goal. This creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused. Without a deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate. An example of a time-bound goal could be, “Implement a comprehensive food waste reduction plan over the next three months, with monthly progress assessments.”
By turning food waste reduction into a SMART goal, you’re not only making a commitment but also creating a roadmap for sustainable lifestyle. Remember that small, consistent changes can lead to significant improvements over time. Monitor your progress regularly, celebrate achievements and adjust your approach as needed.