WHAT’S IN STORE: New on the grocery front in Langley

VIDEO: This week’s business column turns a spotlight on a number of grocery store undertakings.

Well, it’s official.

The Canada Safeway store in Aldergrove has closed, and FreshCo. will be opening in the near future.

This store, which originally opened on the Aldergrove-Abby border almost 40 year ago, closed at the end of May – except for the pharmacy, that is.

As way of background, Sobeys bought the Canadian division of Safeway (plus Thrifty Foods and IGA) back in 2013. Then, it was announced back in January that Sobeys would be converting several of its Safeway stores in Western Canada to FreshCo. stores.

RELATED STORY: Aldergrove ‘shocked’ by impending Safeway closure

So, the Aldergrove grocery store is getting a facelift and reopening as a discount grocer in about four months time.

Indications are there are more than 123 staff from this store who lost their jobs, but we can expect to see some back with FreshCo.

ANOTHER RELATED STORY: Aldergrove shoppers watch Safeway shelves ‘go empty’ before store closes

In the meantime, the other Aldergrove grocers – namely Save-On-Foods and Otter Co-op – are definitely doing a booming business since Safeway’s closure. Indications are Save-On, despite all their current renovations has seen about a 40-per-cent jump in business. Rumour has it Otter has also noticed a bump in traffic.

I believe it. Walking into the Save-On on the way to visit friends, I couldn’t help but notice they’re busier than I can remember seeing them before – except maybe at Christmastime.

Hope to bring you more on the shake out in the grocery industry in Aldergrove in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.

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Cutting down waste

In the meantime, while speaking of grocery stores, have you caught the news out of Loblaw and Save-On-Foods – and probably others – who announced a series of interesting food waste reduction efforts in the past week or so.

Save-On-Foods is working to divert their unsalable perishable food from landfills.

Specifically, with the current program, food that’s unsalable but perfectly safe to consume is diverted to food banks and other participating non-profit organizations, while other food not safe for human consumption is provided to family farms for animal feed and compost.

In collaboration with B.C.-based organizations FoodMesh and Loop Resource, and in partnership with Food Banks BC and other charity partners across the country, 86 Save-On-Foods stores – more than half of all its locations – are now diverting 100 per cent of their unsalable perishable food from landfills.

The company is in the process of scaling its 100 per cent food waste diversion process to another 35 stores, which will be food waste-free by the end of the year.

That alone is impressive. But last week, Save-On-Foods rolled out the next food waste diversion hub in Maple Ridge, which will also provide food waste diversion services for locations in the neighbouring cities of Mission and Pitt Meadows.

Since reaching the 50 per cent reduction target announced in January, the company has revised its goal to become a zero-food waste operation within three years, said Darrell Jones, president of Save-On-Foods.

Save-On-Foods, which is Langley-based and Western Canada’s largest home-grown grocery chain, announced this initiative last year and has already surpassed its company-wide goal of cutting its food waste in half by the year 2025.

“We started the ball rolling on diverting our surplus food from landfills with a single store in February of 2018, and from there, worked on three simultaneous pilot projects in collaboration with Food Mesh, Loop Resources, and members of Food Banks BC to ensure we had a scalable and sustainable solution that allowed us to confidently state our first target,” Jones explained.

“Since then, we’ve rolled this out to the point that more than half of all our stores diverting 100 per cent of their perishables, 100 per cent of the time,” he said.

“This solution was grown here in British Columbia, and we are confident it will work across the country. We have created a process that can track and measure surplus food and how it’s put to better and higher uses. This is a great first step in our ultimate goal of being a zero-waste company, and we are able to leverage the insights from the process to help us reduce surplus and potentially wasted food in the first place.”

Through these partnerships, Save-On-Foods has provided more than 500,000 free meals to families in need across Western Canada since the beginning of the year.

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Reusable containers delivered to the door

Also last week, Loblaw announced a pilot program – starting in Toronto early next year – to provide select products in reusable containers that are delivered to your house.

Loop and Loblaws Canada are rolling out an innovative packaging solution.

Beginning in early 2020, Toronto pilot participants will be able to receive select products from President’s Choice and other leading national brands in reusable containers, delivered right to their doors, said Loblaw’s executive chairman Galen Weston.

“There is too much plastic waste,” Weston said.

“Our industry is part of the problem and we can be part of the solution. Our partnership with Loop is a powerful example of entrepreneurial innovators working with like-minded large enterprise to bring a meaningful solution to a real problem.”

Loop is the first-ever global platform to partner with brands and retailers to offer consumers a way to go from disposablity to durability with their purchases, Weston said.

Loop enables consumers to responsibly consume a variety of commonly used products in customized, brand-specific durable packaging that is delivered in a specially designed reusable shipping tote. When finished with the product, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused – creating a revolutionary circular shopping system.

“With its operational scale and its commitment to environmental sustainability, Loblaw is the perfect partner to bring Loop to Canada,” said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle and Loop.

“Together, as we bring back the milkman model of yesterday rebooted to reflect the convenience of today, we will help to eliminate the idea of waste and bring a better product experience to consumers.”

How Loop works:

Once people place an order online, consumers will receive their durable products in Loop’s exclusively designed shipping tote.

After use, consumers place the empty containers into their Loop totes and go online to schedule a pickup from their home.

With cutting-edge technology, Loop will clean the packaging so that each product may be safely reused and promptly replenished as needed at the consumer’s request.

If your curious to learn more, visit www.loopstore.com.

Let’s hope the concept is successful in Toronto, and will soon after be rolled out in B.C.’s Lower Mainland stores.

I might actually shift some of my shopping to home delivery at that point.

RECENT COLUMNS: Caffeine drip, please

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