CBSR Blog: Loblaw Companies Limited -- Building Sustainability with a Local and Regional Focus
Leading Canadian retailers work toward integrating sustainability efforts throughout their operations. For Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw), focusing on “Canadian First” fresh fruits and vegetables helps connect their sustainability agenda with a wide-range of stakeholders. “Our local and regional buying strategy allows our customers to better understand the food they purchase, promotes food safety, and helps support local economies,” says Frank Pagliaro, vice president, Produce Procurement, Loblaw Companies Limited.
By working with Canadian growers, Loblaw has been able to maximize the amount of fresh Canadian-grown produce available year-round in its stores by 30 per cent. This increases up to 40 per cent during the peak growing season. To strengthen local connections with growers, Loblaw uses a sourcing model which includes annual outreach meetings across the country. These meetings provide key opportunities to build relationships, relay industry requirements, consider regional trends (such as ethnic produce demands), and share best practices. Agreements with growers are supported by the Company’s Vendor Development Managers who work directly with growers in the field across Canada.
As part of Loblaw’s commitment to food safety, a key focus this year is to achieve 100 per cent On Farm Food Safety Certification for all produce and growers. This includes, Canada GAP’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) accreditation program. “The Canadian farming community provides some of the country’s most progressive examples of environmental sustainability and forward thinking,” states Pagliaro. “Our growers understand and are committed to some of the best ideas such as good labour conditions and water recycling efforts.”
Loblaw’s commitment to food safety has also contributed to the development of produce control brands, like PC Organics and Farmer’s Market, with growers audited and certified compliant with GFSI standards. This gives both customers and growers the assurance of a nationally-recognized brand.
Additionally, Loblaw actively participates with national and provincial produce associations. This work at the governance level is helping to ensure a competitive and sustainable fruit and vegetable industry across Canada.
One of Loblaw’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) pillars is to “Source with Integrity.” This means the Company is committed to help the development and sustainability of local growers who, through long-term relationships, are able to grow their businesses with viable farming communities in Canada.
There is a complex web of risks and opportunities in the supply chain for all consumer goods. The philosophy that CSR is a strong force for positive change echoes throughout Loblaw, from senior executives to growers working on the ground.
More information about Loblaw CSR strategies and performance can be found online at www.loblaw.ca/csr.