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Behind every product in our stores is a story about the people who made it and helped deliver it to our customers. Think about the farmers and the makers, the packers and the movers, the suppliers and the sellers. At every step of this journey there are real people working hard and making decisions about the resources they need — things like energy, water, raw materials and human effort.
We believe the people behind the products deserve to be treated fairly and encouraged to use resources sustainably. As a national grocer, we’re committed to using our scale and influence responsibly, taking steps to source more and more products that nurture people and protect the planet.
We’re also committed to doing the right thing by our suppliers, championing national standards while investing in local producers and growers. Our goal is to keep growing and innovating, so we can help nourish even more Canadian families and businesses in future.
Over the past year, we’ve developed or updated ethically and environmentally conscious purchasing guidelines, and these include specific targets with respect to animal welfare, sustainable seafood, and sourcing sustainable palm oil. These guidelines, which are focused on our Own Brands products as a first step, articulate our purchasing commitments and guide our sourcing teams:
Sustainable Palm Oil
We are committed to using sustainable palm oil in our Own Brands products, reporting to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). As of December 2020, 98.6 per cent of the palm oil used for our Own Brands products was fully physically traceable certified sustainable palm oil.
How We’re Making a Difference
Supporting Animal Welfare
As members of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), we’re committed to the respectful treatment of all livestock animals within our supply chain. We source live-stock derived proteins — such as beef, milk, eggs, poultry and pork — through processors and distributors who, in turn, are supplied by a wide range of, primarily, Canadian farms. Each livestock commodity has its own trade association and regulatory requirements that govern animal welfare and food safety. Each association has its own code of practice and care assessment programs that we stay well informed on.
We have a track record of driving and supporting improvements in animal welfare. For example, we supported the Veal Associations of Québec and Ontario plan to transition producers using individual stalls for veal production to group housing. In 2018, we met that commitment, with 100 per cent of our fresh veal now coming from suppliers that have made the switch to group housing. This is now the industry standard articulated in the Code of Practice.
Over time, we’re also adding more choices for plant-based proteins in our stores. For example, we were the first retailer in Canada to carry Impossible Burger by Impossible Foods, an alternative form of protein that is delivers all the taste of a traditional burger but without the meat.
Advancing Sustainability with Our Own Brands1
We’re proud of the quality and value we deliver to customers through our Own Brands offerings including Compliments and Panache. For fiscal year 2021, all of the palm oil used in our Own Brands was certified sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Similarly, 96 per cent of our Own Brands fresh and frozen seafood is Marine Stewardship Council, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Best Aquaculture Practices certified. Over 30 per cent of our Own Brands lean ground pork is sourced from farms housing sows in loose housing systems2. And we continued to invest in ethical supplier relationships through more than 11 Own Brands offerings that are Fairtrade-certified. Other highlights of our Own Brands include:
- Over 25 of our Own Brands products bear the Dairy Farmers of Canada logo, consistent with our long-standing support for Canadian-made products.
- We are a proud member of Plant-Based Foods of Canada and our Own Brands plant-based products are all third-party certified.
- All of our Organic Own Brands products meet the guidelines and permitted substances that are used in the Canadian organic certification process.
- Our Own Brands comply with all certification and traceability requirements required by the Safe Food for Canadians Act.
1 Own Brands refers to Sobeys Inc Control Brand products only. Own Brands does not include Longo’s or Farm Boy control brands.
2 Loose housing is defined as systems that allow for the housing of sows in group pens during their gestation period. For the safety of the animals and caregivers, sows are housed in stalls during their nursing and breeding stages.
Fostering Fair Dealings with Suppliers
We’re committed to investing in respectful and sustainable supplier relationships at a national and local level. We’re proud to have partnered with Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada to develop Canada’s first draft Grocery Supply Code of Practice — an agreement that will create a fairer playing field for retailers and suppliers. The draft code promotes fair dealings, mutually-beneficial relationships, commercial certainty, transparency, clear processes to resolve disputes, and a vision to ensure our industry keeps delivering customer value in sustainable ways. We’ve submitted the draft code to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture working group, and look forward to input and support from other grocery retailers across the country.