How to fight climate change at natural retail

Two trade industry experts join forces with three key players in the supply chain to spearhead this engaging discussion on driving climate action, focusing on how the Climate Collaborative can support efforts to engage everyone that touches your business.

3 Min Read
How to fight climate change at natural retail

“We don’t want to tell people you have to be here by a certain point or you can’t join us. We really want everyone to have an on-ramp to [climate] action regardless of where they are in their journey.”

—Erin Callahan, director, Climate Collaborative

Part 1: Introduction

Highlights from Corinne Shindelar, CEO, Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA):

  • Everyone wants to be part of the solution; the biggest challenge moving forward is how?

  • INFRA is taking a step back and trying to encourage small actions like less printing and reusable badge holders.



Part 2: Insights from the entire supply chain

Highlights from Amy Kirtland, SVP Natural, KeHE Distributors; Brenna Davis, VP of social and environmental responsibility, PCC Community Markets; and Taylor Lee, customer marketing manager, Clif Bar & Co.:

  • Every $1,000 of revenue in an average grocery store creates 10 pounds of waste.

  • KeHE asks retailers to share more scan data, and evaluates every single promotion.

  • PCC has always been a leader in sustainability but admits it hasn't always been great at sharing the stories around it. Examples include banning plastic bags 10 years before the city did and giving 15 percent post-tax revenue back to the community.

  • PCC is setting really aggressive climate goals to be announced soon; Brenna also founded a group called WA Business for Climate Action, which encourages state-level action on climate change.

  • Clif Bar & Co is in the early stages of building a platform to help their sales team approach conversations around climate change and sustainability with retailers, distributors, and more.



Part 3: Measuring progress and impact


  • The Climate Collaborative has two surveys to track against its goals.

  • In response to a particular retailer’s RFP, KeHE added a financial incentive to reduce inventory spoils between the two companies.

  • You need goals: PCC often suffers from “paralysis by analysis.”

  • Clif Bar & Co. isn’t setting specific metrics this year. First the company wants to see how receptive people are, then build out over time.



Part 4: The Climate Collaborative Retailer Toolkit

Highlights from Erin Callahan, director, Climate Collaborative:

  • Operational vs. value chain goals.Engage suppliers early on.

  • Most early movers were brands, along with some 30-plus retailers; they’re aiming to get more producers and retailers on board.

  • First make a commitment within your own four walls, then look beyond.

  • Helpful suggestions for raising climate issue awareness at the store level.



Part 5: Reaching consumers ... are we there yet?


  • Clif Bar & Co. has been having the conversation for a while, and hopes to provide more focused resources using the Retailer Toolkit.

  • PCC highlighted climate action in a recent newsletter and discovered co-op members pushing them to do even more.

  • KeHE: code date language and the Costco effect.



Part 6: Financial implications, changing expectations


  • Clif Bar & Co.’s “50/50 by 2020” initiative offers free consulting to supply chain partners to help them meet green power goals.

  • Improving your EBITDA in quantifiable and qualifiable ways.

  • One Wall Street Journal study shows you could increase your margin by engaging in the sustainability story.

  • Co-ops could lead a movement encouraging consumers to buy less.

  • Imperfect Produce example: Think about what we’re feeding, and how we’re promoting and merchandising.



Part 7: Q&A


  • How to drive the conversation for smaller companies who don’t recognize the business value?

  • How do you specifically engage with suppliers in the conversation?


This session—Climate Day Retailer Track - All aboard! How to get your vendors on the climate train—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.


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