The Kroger Co., the nation’s biggest supermarket chain and one of the nation’s largest natural food retailers by sales volume, said it will complete the standardization of date labels for its private label products by 2020 in an effort to reduce food waste.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger (NYSE: KR), with $121 billion in annual sales, sells its private label products, including its Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands, the largest U.S. natural and organic brands, under the Our Brands portfolio.
The Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands contributed $2.3 billion toward Kroger’s total of $17.6 billion worth of natural and organic products sold in 2018.
“Kroger recognizes food waste often takes place in our customers’ kitchens simply because product date labels can be confusing, resulting in safe-to-eat food regularly being tossed out,” said Kroger’s vice president Howard Popoola. “As Kroger works to reduce food waste throughout our business and our communities, we are standardizing and simplifying Our Brands products’ date labels, providing clearer guidance to our customers.”
The date labeling effort is also part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan to end hunger in the communities where it operates and eliminate waste across its operations by 2025.
Kroger operates nearly 2,800 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, QFC, City Market, and Dillons.
Earlier this year, Kroger began to transition Our Brands food products to feature one of the following date labels:
- “Use By” is used to represent food safety. If a customer reads “use by” followed by a date, it indicates the deadline for when it is no longer safe to eat.
- “Best if Used By” is used to represent food quality. If a customer reads “best if used by” followed by a date, it indicates the deadline for guaranteed freshness but does not affect the product’s safety.
The new date labels will apply to multiple product categories, including dairy, deli, bakery, and fresh and frozen grocery.
“By implementing a standard and simplified new date labeling approach, Kroger and our customers can play an instrumental role in preventing tons of food waste from arriving at landfills, resulting in a healthier, stronger planet and communities free of hunger and waste,” said Jessica Adelman, another Kroger vice president.