With a long-lasting passion for food, that has been fuelling our growth for the last 225 years, we are a Group of Companies committed to serving to our very best abilities the 5 million people that visit our more than 3,800 food stores in Portugal, Poland and Colombia every day.
We are very much aware of how dependent our business is on the planet and the life and people on it. That’s why we embrace the challenges that come with being responsible for the ways we do business.
The food world is an ever-complex one and the more informed you are about the issues underlying the processes of bringing food to people the more likely it is that you may feel overwhelmed. And if it is true that no one alone can solve the challenges ahead, only through collective active can we make a decisive contribution for a positive change.
“We” is the key word. Embedding sustainable actions in our day-to-day work requires a true, collective effort. All players in the food business can have significant and multi-dimensional impacts.
We believe that when you have food at the core of your business, in a world where resources are scarce and so many people starve or are insufficiently nourished, you are extra responsible for fighting food waste on all fronts.
We all know food waste happens in all links of a product’s value chain, from the producer to the consumer and all players in between. As such concerted action is needed to reshape mindset and behaviours in a matter that is both about responsibility and being business-smart.
In our Group, where an average of nearly 5 million boxes of products are delivered every day, spotting opportunities to continuously improve efficiency is really key.
Since 2014, our central kitchens – where meal solutions are produced – and soup factories have been incorporating “ugly” fruits and vegetables that we buy at a discount from the producers that work with us. The producers used to leave them to rot in the fields because no retailer would buy them.
Additionally, our suppliers of pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables for salads or soups also adopted this practice. And our Recheio Cash & Carry stores sell restaurants these non-standard products at a very low price.
Results speak for themselves: in 2017 alone, our Group has incorporated around 14 thousand tons of “ugly” fruits and vegetables.
Moreover, we pay special attention to the destiny of edible food that we no longer put on sale in our stores. As part of Jerónimo Martins’ large-scale campaign against waste, some perishable food that isn’t purchased by the end of the day is taken by charities to those who need it the most, whether in orphanages or old people’s homes, or directly to the homeless.
In the last three years over 30 thousand tons of food, an equivalent of more than 57 million euros at purchase cost, were offered to around 1,000 charities.
We can only do it because our own people in the stores understand how big a difference the extra mile of separating edible food can make for so many citizens in need. As the stores close at night-time, tens of thousands of our employees start boxing up the food that won’t appear on the shelves the next day and preparing it for delivery to charities.
We have always taken pride in being efficiency-oriented and therefore we do hate to waste. While we do everything we can to avoid waste, in our business there are always losses. So what we do with the generated waste does matter. In 2017, our total waste recovery rate was of 85%.
We also help our customers to manage their own waste. In the last three years we collected from customers and sent to valorisation more than 1,900 tons of waste. With regards to food waste specifically, we know that a significant part of it happens in consumers’ homes, and so we launched an integrated awareness campaign around food waste. The campaign included magnets for fridges teaching customers the best way to store different products to extend their life-cycle, and also leaflets, in-store charts, magazines, videos, and the participation in conferences and events with keynote speakers and show-cooking for creative recipes made out of leftovers.
Despite everything that we already do, we can’t stop caring about what still needs to be done. We are absolutely sure that we will never be perfect and that it is not feasible to do everything right every time. But we cannot accept food waste without a serious and energetic fight. It is a long-term war where we are all soldiers against a far too common enemy.
In this mission, as in most things in life, we are stronger together. And definitely more capable of building a better and more sustainable tomorrow.
Pedro Soares dos Santos
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer