PROVIDENCE, R.I.–United Natural Foods, Inc., (NYSE: UNFI) (the “Company” or “UNFI”) released its annual Better for All Report, which details UNFI’s progress toward its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) commitments during the Company’s 2022 fiscal year, which ended July 30, 2022. In its 12th year of environmental and social reporting, UNFI reported progress in nine impact focus areas consisting of Customer Health & Safety, Energy Efficiency, Governance, Associate Safety & Well-Being, Climate Action, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI), Community Development, Responsible Procurement, and Waste Reduction. This year, the Company launched three new science-based targets, bringing its total goals to 15 across its entire Better for All strategy.
UNFI’s Better for All strategy continues to focus on proactively engaging with the people growing, making, and moving the products the Company distributes. As highlighted in this year’s report, engagement efforts include new customer surveys, continued conversations with investors, and cross-functional efforts to respond to associate feedback for additional DEI and associate wellbeing initiatives. The Company also proactively engaged with suppliers, including making investments in platforms such as UNFI’s recently launched Climate Action Hub, marking the first step in a more collaborative approach to address some of today’s most critical issues.
In its fiscal year 2022, UNFI reported the following milestones in support of its goal to build a food system that is better for its people, its communities, and the planet, resulting from ambitious and innovative efforts across the Company:
- Launched the Climate Action Hub, starting with the release of the Climate Action Guide for Business – a free resource for suppliers.
- Created the UNFI Foundation Food Equity Grant, awarding the Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, R.I. $100,000 to help promote food equity, eliminate hunger, and improve public health.
- Doubled year-over-year spend with diverse suppliers as a result of a clarified action plan to better identify, source, and assist diverse suppliers with certification and planning needed to grow their business with UNFI.
- Launched the installation of a roof-mounted solar array at UNFI’s distribution center in Howell, N.J., the Company’s largest to date.
- Completed a waste audit and kicked off an active audit for all owned brands retail packaging to enable sustainability progression across our brands portfolio.
- Recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality” and one of the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.”
- Launched a new monthly campaign, called Difference Maker Spotlight, to highlight associates’ contributions to Better for All via their everyday responsibilities.
“In the past year we’ve made a focused effort to holistically integrate our Better for All strategy throughout the organization, as well as proactively engage our stakeholders, from our associates to our supply chain partners, on issues from climate to food equity to DEI,” said UNFI Chief Executive Officer, Sandy Douglas. “That approach has yielded some meaningful achievements this year and, in several areas, also allowed us to establish the organizational structures and processes needed to make progress against future goals. While we are proud of the progress we have made, we recognize that in many ways we are just at the beginning of our journey and that there is much more to be done. We look forward to continuing this important work in the coming years.”
Climate Action Teamwork
The launch of the Climate Action Hub comes after almost two years of partnership with the Climate Collaborative, a community of businesses joining forces to create pathways to action and working together to create solutions on climate. The new platform offers UNFI suppliers a variety of tools and resources, including opportunities for suppliers and partners to learn from experts and each other, to innovate, and scale climate solutions across the food system. Additionally, the Company has made its Climate Action Guide for Business, which offers step-by-step guidance for how to measure and disclose impact, commit to ambitious targets, and identify opportunities for action, available to everyone for free with the hopes of fast-tracking collective action toward a decarbonized future.
“Approximately 97 percent of UNFI’s total emissions are a result of our upstream supply chain, which is why we are committed to empowering our suppliers to take climate action. As one of the country’s largest wholesalers, we are a connector between retail, brands, and communities and our leadership and education to others can help amplify the important role we all play in making a positive impact on our climate,” said Alisha Real, UNFI’s Vice President of ESG & Social Impact. “With the validation of our science-based targets this year, we are ready to accelerate our action and lead by example to support our communities and the planet.”
The annual edition of the report, which can be read at the newly updated BetterForAll.UNFI.com, is guided by leading internationally recognized frameworks, including Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). For added transparency, stakeholders looking for GRI and SASB reporting can find respective indices in the report’s appendix. The report also includes the Company’s disclosure aligned to recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures.
UNFI is North America’s premier grocery wholesaler delivering the widest variety of fresh, branded, and owned brand products to more than 30,000 locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce providers, and food service customers. UNFI also provides a broad range of value-added services and segmented marketing expertise, including proprietary technology, data, market insights, and shelf management to help customers and suppliers build their businesses and brands. As the largest full-service grocery partner in North America, UNFI is committed to building a food system that is better for all and is uniquely positioned to deliver great food, more choices, and fresh thinking to customers. To learn more about how UNFI is Fueling the Future of Food, visit www.unfi.com.