Raley’s releases first annual Impact Report

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Western supermarket chain Raley’s sketched out its nutrition and wellness, sustainability, corporate responsibility and community investment strategies in its first annual Impact Report.

Raley’s said the 45-page Impact Report, released yesterday, highlights the West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer’s efforts in 2020 — its 85th year in business — to support its purpose of “changing the way the world eats, one plate at a time.” The better-for-you brand positioning aims to help customers make more informed and healthier food choices.

Related: Raley’s Food Lab to serve as startup incubator for food entrepreneurs

During 2020, Raley’s noted that it outpaced competitors in sales of better-for-you items in categories such as clean-label, grain-free, non-GMO, keto, plant-based, organic and nutrient-dense.

The retailer reported unit growth of more than 20% in these product segments, including around 25% in clean-label, keto-friendly, plant-based, organic, non-GMO and sustainable items; about 20% in kosher, grain-free and gut-health items; and nearly 15% in nutrient-dense items.

Related: Raley’s raises over $3 million for local food banks

“At Raley’s, we carefully balance purpose with profit and believe in serving multiple bottom lines,” said Raley’s CEO Keith Knopf. (Photo courtesy of Raley’s)

Helping to fuel that growth were 2,267 new SKUs meeting Raley’s Shelf Guide standards plus 53 new products under the Raley’s Pure Made label, which offers products free from more than 100 ingredients banned by the retailer.

In addition, Raley’s debuted a major new store format called Raley’s O-N-E Market, with the first location opening in Truckee, Calif., in late June. The banner reflects the company’s brand pillars of “Organics, Nutrition and Education” and offers a shopping destination focused on wellness education, with a highly curated assortment of products meeting the grocer’s health, nutrition and sustainability standards.

“Our first Impact Report exemplifies our team’s dedication to prioritizing purpose over profit and our commitment to serving multiple bottom lines,” Keith Knopf, president and CEO of Raley’s, said in a statement on the release of the report. “We are committed to being more than a grocery store, so it is both rewarding and humbling to see the progress we were able to make this past year to change the way the world eats and positively impact the communities we serve.”

Community investment by Raley’s in 2020 included raising over $9 million — the equivalent of 6,482,118 meals — for 12 Feeding America-aligned food banks via the Raley’s Food For Families program. The grocer also donated more than $1 million in funds to hundreds of nonprofit groups, focusing on organizations that help current and future generations live healthier and happier lives, as well as issued $700,000 in Extra Credit grants to 48 schools and districts for programs that promote nutrition education, teach food literacy, address food insecurity, provide physical safety and directly impact students’ mental, emotional and physical well-being.

In the report, Raley’s said 33% of its community investment dollars went to food access, 28% to better-for-you food efforts, 25% to “advocating for good,” 10% to food system education and 1% to total well-being. For 2021, the company plans to earmark 10% of its community investment budget for child safety and welfare programs and 5% for environment and sustainability initiatives, as well as raise the number of community members impacted by its charitable donations by 10%.

Highlights of Raley’s initiatives in sustainable and responsible operations during 2020 included the diversion of more than 70% of all company waste from landfills; donation of 4.8 million pounds of food through its food rescue program; launch of private-label aluminum water bottles made from 75% post-consumer material that are recyclable and reusable; transition of its in-store sushi vendor to a 100% sustainably sourced seafood program; and the formation of an interdepartmental humane treatment committee to assess its animal welfare policies.

“At Raley’s, we carefully balance purpose with profit and believe in serving multiple bottom lines,” Knopf said in the Impact Report’s CEO letter. “The success of our business relies on the vitality of the communities we serve, so we will continue to offer fulfilling career opportunities, donate generously to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, food banks and schools and work to reduce our environmental impact everywhere we operate.”

Going forward, Raley’s said in the report that it aims to shift to “no antibiotics ever” chicken in its fresh service deli in 2021; source100% cage-free shell eggs for all non-Raley’s brands by the end of 2021; move to 100% cage-free shell eggs in its fresh service deli in 2021; package all cut vegetables on compostable trays and meat on recyclable trays by 2025; and reduce food waste at least 50% by 2030. The retailer also has commissioned a new refrigeration system that exceeds all 2030 carbon emission standards and transition to consumer compostable private-label K-cups in 2021.

The past year also saw Raley’s go the extra mile for its employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said it invested more than $60 million in enhanced safety protections and related labor from March to December 2020 as well as hired and trained over 9,000 new workers. Also, Raley’s invested more than $15 million in appreciation pay and bonuses, and 25% of employees received paid leave.

“I am honored to see the great work of our team members in support of our vision to infuse life with health and happiness,” Mike Teel, owner and chairman of Raley’s, stated in the Impact Report. “Together, we have the power to transform our food system, our communities and our planet for the better. My family and I are proud of this inspired work and what tomorrow will bring.”

Overall, Raley’s operates 124 stores in California and Nevada under the banners Raley’s, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods, Raley’s O-N-E Market, Market 5-ONE-5 and Food Source.

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