Natural Grocers Reports on ESG Progress

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. has unveiled its third annual “Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report,” outlining its endeavors in sustainability, human health, and community welfare. Established in 1955, this family-run specialty retailer perceives a significant opportunity to positively influence environmental sustainability and human well-being by prioritizing products sourced from vendors committed to regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices. 

The company has invested in various programs and products aligning with its ESG principles. Under the environmental aspect, Natural Grocers emphasized its advocacy for product standards supporting a more sustainable food system and its promotion of regenerative agricultural practices. Notably, the retailer boasts being the pioneer in offering private-label eggs sourced from farms certified as regenerative. Natural Grocers is actively embracing eco-friendly practices across its operations. For instance, it has implemented a carbon dioxide refrigeration system in a second store, providing energy savings and enhanced environmental protection compared to conventional refrigerants. Additionally, the company opts for refrigeration systems equipped with LED lighting and pull-down covers. The ESG report also highlights initiatives to minimize waste and boost recycling, including donating $5 million worth of in-kind food and products and adopting recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable packaging for store brand items whenever feasible. 

In terms of social practices, Natural Grocers focuses on affordability, nutrition education, community engagement, scholarships, equity, inclusion, diversity, and talent development. Notable achievements in fiscal 2023 include a $6 million investment in free nutrition education, the introduction of an “Always Affordable” pricing designation on nearly all products, and a report indicating that 45% of store managers and 58% of assistant store managers were women. Regarding governance, the company highlighted that four out of its eight board members are independent directors, with three being women. The executive management team, boasting an average of 38 years of experience in the natural grocery industry, has significantly contributed to expanding the store count from 11 in 1998 to 165 as of September 30th, 2023. 

 Kemper Isely, Executive Co-president of Natural Grocers, spotlighted the company’s origins. “Natural Grocers has a legacy of being a values-driven company. For over 68 years, we have demonstrated our commitment to practices that support a more sustainable and affordable food system,” Isley said. He emphasized the company’s alignment with Environmental, Social, and Governance disciplines and its dedication to practices and products promoting environmental and human health. Natural Grocers, operating over 165 stores across 21 states, is headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado. Recognized as No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of top food and consumables retailers in North America, Natural Grocers has also been named one of PG’s 10 Most Sustainable Grocers.