Summary of the Retail and Food Service Sector
The Retail and Food Services sector represents food retailers including grocery stores, mass merchandisers, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, food service facilities, and food delivery companies. This sector is an important member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) and the beef supply chain as they distribute, sell and serve beef directly to consumers. Participation in USRSB is an opportunity for retail and food service organizations to contribute to domestic sustainability initiatives, with a special focus on beef. While each organization may have different sustainability impacts, the collective contribution of the sector as a whole and engagement with their supply chains – which are often shared – will result in improved outcomes that move the needle of each USRSB sustainability Indicator. By tracking their own progress using the USRSB metrics, retailers can demonstrate their commitment to working with the full beef value chain to advance the sustainability of the beef industry.
The USRSB metrics for the retail and food service sector have been designed to support retailers and food service providers regardless of where they are on their sustainability journey. For companies just beginning to engage on these issues, the metrics and assessment guides provide a clear starting point. Companies that are looking to take their sustainability efforts to the next level will find roadmaps and resources for continuous improvement. Finally, companies with established sustainability programs may use the metrics to evaluate and validate their approaches and find opportunities to benchmark with peer companies with shared goals and challenges.
Retail and Food Service Metric Development
The USRSB metrics for the retail and food service sectors have been designed to support retailers and food service providers regardless of where they are on their sustainability journey. For companies just beginning to engage on these issues, the metrics and assessment guides provide a clear starting point. Companies that are looking take their sustainability efforts to the next level will find roadmaps and resources for continuous improvement. Finally, companies with established sustainability programs may use the metrics to evaluate and validate their approaches and find opportunities to benchmark with peer companies with shared goals and challenges. Regardless of where a company starts, the important thing is that they share the commitment to the vision and mission of the USRSB and are engaged and measuring their progress using these metrics.
The retail and food service sector metrics outline the sector’s approach to continuous improvement across 3 levels that encourage retailers to:
- Understand the impacts of each indicator for their businesses
- Develop and implement plans for continuous improvement in their own operations
- Engage and collaborate with their suppliers
- Measure and report progress
Recognizing that beef is one of many products sold or served through the retail and food service sector, we have made the metrics specific to beef where possible.
This continuous improvement approach was established to highlight the important role of the retail and food services sector as the interface between consumers and the beef industry and to support the close collaboration the retail and food services sector has with the full beef supply chain.
The principles guiding the 3-tiered approach to continuous improvement for the retail sector are as follows:
Level 1 – Operational Awareness: seeks awareness and engagement within the organization’s own operation, focusing on baseline assessments and benchmarking
Level 2 – Programs to Address Metrics in Own Operations and Supplier Collaboration: seeks to both implement programs targeted to the metrics within the organization’s own operation and engage direct suppliers
Level 3 – Measurement & Reporting: seeks to measure, report and set targets for continuous improvement within the organization’s own operations and collaborate with direct suppliers
Diverse Business Models
The breadth of operations and ownership models within the retail and food services sector means there are not “one-size fits all” solutions or tools. Each business is a unique operation, and implementation of the USRSB metrics may need to be tailored accordingly.
For example, retail and food services sector members who have a franchise business model, the sector recommends organizations start by implementing the USRSB metrics in company-owned operations – at a minimum – and include a vision for future engagement with franchised operations for broader implementation. The retail and food services sector recognizes the importance of applying the metrics across franchised operations where possible, and acknowledges there are often legal or other limitations to the scope of influence in certain areas for the corporate entity.
Even within the franchised business model, each company will apply the model in unique ways. Ultimately, it is important to note that franchised operations are separate business entities. Nevertheless, franchised companies may seek to influence their franchisees for broader adoption of voluntary sustainability initiatives through various strategies, such as:
- Demonstrating potential return on investment through implementation in company-owned operations
- Supply chain driven strategies (e.g. adopt standards in product specifications)
- Adjustments to franchise agreements
- Corporate-driven achievement awards focused on sustainability
- Other franchise engagement strategies
What To Expect
The information presented in the retail and food services sector Sustainability Assessment Guide will assist in the adoption and implementation of the six high-priority indicators with supporting documents, guidance, resources and best-practices identified by USRSB members and supporting industries. The content and resources listed in the guidance that accompanies many of the metrics are intended to be used only as suggestions to support companies they respond to the metrics questions; they should not be interpreted as standards.