|GM Report: Works in Progress...|
Every October, I finish preparing a report to our Board of Directors on how well we are achieving our Ends, or the intended results of our work. Through various measurements, we evaluate our progress on the highest and most purposeful goals, as identified by our Board of Directors who are elected to speak for you, our shareholders. Last year, for instance, I noted that we had some work to do in achieving more of a “reasonably priced food and products” end.
I have been hearing from many of you in the aisles that we are doing much better in this vein, and that makes me very happy, since we have all worked quite hard at it. First, we have aggressively instituted our everyday low price features through the purple “Co-op Basics” program, which is supported in center store by the work of National Co-op Grocers, the co-op of 150 retailers that we own. We have taken this out to perimeter departments, and sought out products that can meet the requirement of basic food at a value price. We are now beginning to get more support from our suppliers in this endeavor in some of our fresh departments, so you should see this selection continue to expand and/or deepen. We also focused attention on promotional pricing, and have again worked with suppliers to present better and better options. Sometimes there are extensive internal discussions about margins and price points, all to provide you with better choices on sale. We also kicked off a mid-month Fresh Flyer, with perimeter departments’ best door-busting deals for a limited time, and have seen a huge response to this effort.
In addition, we measure sales of local products. Last year, we grew those sales another 9.6%, for a total of 19% of sales. This does not currently count the products that are prepared in our own commissary from scratch, sometimes using local products as part of the raw materials. I am also proud to say that our Produce department increased the sales of local produce from 32% to 37% over the year, with a high of 59% in September, not surprisingly. Organic sales throughout the store continued to increase, but at a slower pace than in previous years.
Another area that we have been scrutinizing as a result of data from the Ends Report last year is our waste stream, and we have doubled down our efforts on this with the creation of the Waste Stream Task Force. This group of staff from across all departments have learned about our various waste haulers, and what effects we can have to increase our recycling and composting tonnage, while reducing our landfill use. We are also looking at our contribution to the community’s struggle with this, and we are beginning to sharply reduce our use of paper bags in the front end to bag groceries. Many of you already support this by dutifully bringing your own reusable bags in every time you shop, but we can do better. So, we asked some of you to increase our stash of cloth bags sewn for shareholder hours, and we are asking local businesses to contribute their own branded bags to the effort. We will begin to suggest the use of these options more and more as well as re-using cardboard boxes when available; for groceries packed in your own reusable bag, we will continue to contribute a nickel to either you or a non-profit in our community. For those who prefer to use new paper bags, we will begin to charge five cents per bag—which, by the way, is less than we pay for a large bag! So, it’s your choice: we pay you, or you pay us. We will begin to have discussions in the checkout lines this holiday season, and by January 1, we will begin this choice in earnest.
Additionally, if you have lots of reusable bags piling up in your mudroom, please bring them in to the bag tree in the Front End for others to use. And remember that we have the most amazing Bulk department with many choices of delectable products, so you can bring in containers to use there as well, instead of using the plastic or paper bags provided. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help with “tare” weights on your containers.
The more we all think of things we can do to reduce waste, the better our community will be. The waste-stream conundrum continues to challenge us all, so we need to do every little thing we can to have an impact. Thank you for your help!