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Kroger and Ocado will open the first of up to 20 planed Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFC) in Monroe, Ohio.

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In a bid to reduce food waste, Kroger is to launch a private label brand that focuses on imperfect fruit and vegetables.

Pickuliar Picks: ‘imperfect, but perfectly delicious’

Kroger has announced plans to introduce Pickuliar Picks produce into its store in Q1 2019. The brand focuses on produce that meets all taste and safety standards but would previously have been rejected for aesthetic reasons – including size, colour or shape.

Combatting 6 billion pounds of unused produce a year

At an event hosted by the US Chamber of Conmerce Foundation, Kroger’s Senior Innovation Manager Nicole Davis announced the launch: "When produce comes in or has grown and comes off the farm, if it doesn't meet a specific spec or colour or shape or size, it gets rejected. But if 6 billion pounds of produce … are too tiny or too bumpy – or [it] has freckles on the outside but still tastes delicious and [is] perfectly food-safe – why can't we capture some of that and use it to feed people?"

Zero Hunger, Zero Waste

Pickuliar Picks forms part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste goals, which include:

  • Advocating policy solutions to address hunger and divert food waste from landfills
  • Achieving existing Zero Waste goals by 2020

Completely eliminating food waste by 2025

Following last month's announcement that it would be testing driverless ecommerce deliveries, Kroger has launched the first pilot at a store in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Flat fee charge of $5.95

Kroger announced in July that it would partner with Nuro, a company that makes fully unmanned vehicles, to trial the delivery initiative. The pilot has launched at single location of Fry’s Food Stores in Scottsdale, Arizona. Customers shop via the retailer’s website or app, scheduling orders for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro’s fleet of self-driving vehicles. The retailer charges a flat fee of $5.95, with no minimum order.

Source: Kroger

Potential to improve cost efficiencies

Nuro will start the pilot using its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet before introducing its custom R1 driverless vehicle later in the year. The fully electric vehicles have locking compartments and shoppers will receive a code to unlock it when they place their order. Each vehicle weighs around 1,500 pounds and have cameras and sensors to allow them to drive autonomously. With last mile delivery typically the highest cost element within online grocery fulfilment, improving cost efficiencies in this area could provide significant operational savings for Kroger, helping it to scale its model.

Testing consumer acceptance of self-driving vehicles

The pilot aims to offer more customers “the convenience of affordable grocery delivery,” according to Kroger’s Chief Digital Officer, Yael Cosset. Customer acceptance of self-driving vehicles will be a key focus for the test. Kroger will not be alone in testing self-driving vehicles in Arizona. While Uber recently ended its test in the market to focus on California, Alphabet-owned Waymo has been testing in Phoenix for over a year. Recently it announced plans to partner with five companies in the city, including Walmart. Under this pilot, Waymo vehicles will transport the rider to and from a Walmart store to collect their groceries.

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Kroger has released its 2018 Sustainability Report, evaluating progress made towards its 2020 goals.

Ambitious 2020 goals

Kroger previously committed to three sustainable supply chain goals by 2020, and provided updates on each:

Increase responsible sourcing

  • In 2017, 87% of Kroger’s wild-caught fresh and frozen seafood was from either Marine Stewardship Council-certified, Fishery Improvement Projects or other Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative-recognised programmes. Goal: 100% by 2020
  • 21% of eggs sold in-store were cage free. Goal: 100% by 2025

Grow eco-stewardship

  • In 2017, Kroger diverted 77% of waste generated from landfill. Goal: 20%+ by 2020
  • Kroger recycled 66.15 million pounds of plastic in its operations in 2017, with a total of 134.48 million since the 2016 goal baseline. Goal: 200m pounds more by 2020 (2016 baseline)

Reduce carbon emissions

  • Kroger has achieved an 8.1% improvement in Ton Miles Per Gallon since 2010, up from 7.5% in 2016. Goal: improve by 20% by 2020 (2010 baseline)

Zero Hunger, Zero Waste goals

Last year, the retailer also released its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste plan, which includes:

  • Advocating policy solutions to address hunger and divert food waste from landfills
  • Achieving existing Zero Waste goals by 2020
  • Completely eliminating food waste by 2025

Making “incredible progress” on sustainability journey

Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO, commented: "Kroger associates achieved incredible progress on our business strategy and sustainability journey in 2017. We launched our three-year Restock Kroger plan, engaged more deeply with our Purpose: To Feed the Human Spirit, made progress on our 2020 Sustainability Goals, and introduced Kroger's ambitious Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan. These are all profoundly important to who we are and what we stand for as a company."


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