Through its new ‘Fight hunger. Serve hope.‘ initiative, supermarket juggernaut Albertsons has launched a ‘You buy. We’ll give.‘ cause marketing campaign. Sales of O Organics products, their private label organic food brand, will help fight food insecurity.
Between July 5, 2023, and August 1, 2023, the second largest supermarket conglomerate in the United States will donate one meal for every O Organics product purchased, up to $7 million (the equivalent of 28 million meals) to Nourishing Neighbors, an arm of the Albertsons Companies Foundation.
“For the first time, we are making it easier than ever for our customers to support (food security) by connecting each purchase of our O Organics brand to hunger relief efforts in the communities we serve,” says Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons.
The ‘Fight Hunger. Serve Hope.’ campaign is promoted both in-store and online, including via sponsored social media posts by cooking influencers.
Albertsons, which owns two dozen supermarket brands including Safeway, Jewel, Shaw’s, Acme, and Vons, earned $1.5 billion in net income on $77 billion in revenue last year.
Fighting Hunger and Serving Hope During the Summer
Summer is the most vulnerable time for childhood food insecurity as many students lose access to free or subsidized meals through public schools. “The hard truth is that one in eight children in America experience food insecurity, and the summer months only make this reality even more challenging,” says Christy Duncan Anderson, President and Executive Director of the Albertsons Companies Foundation. “Hunger can have lifelong consequences for children, making it more difficult for them to learn, play and connect with kids their age. Thanks to (the ‘Fight Hunger. Serve Hope.’) program, customers buying O Organics ingredients for Taco Tuesday or filling their shopping carts with O Organics essentials are enabling the donation of 28 million nutritious meals to children in need this summer.”
One advantage that corporate-funded programs may have over public programs is cost efficiency. The federally-funded and state-administered USDA Summer Food Service program served 142 million meals in 2019 at a cost of $476 million, for an average cost of $3.35 per meal — compared to the $0.25 per meal reported by Albertsons.
Where the ‘Fight Hunger. Serve Hope.’ Proceeds Go
The Nourishing Neighbors program was started in 2014 to expand “access to nourishing food” by distributing grants to “programs that fund breakfast for kids, summer meals, connecting families to federal programs, holiday dinners, backpacks for kids to take home over the weekends, school pantries and many other methods.”
As of June 2023, Nourishing Neighbors has raised more than $200 million to fund hunger relief nonprofits. “Since 2020, Nourishing Neighbors enabled 350 million meals, invested $10.4 million in schools to feed kids and provided $9 million toward empowering BIPOC communities through hunger programs,” the company also reports.
Benefits for Albertsons
The use of cause marketing with organic foods can be especially effective — in this case boosting sales of Albertson’s higher margin, private-label brand. Organic foods can cost 10% – 21% more than non-organic products. For example, a half-gallon of O Organics milk costs $4.99 compared to $3.69 for a non-organic brand.
Feeding children is a fairly noncontroversial way to attach positive feelings and goodwill to a product, which increases value to customers. Studies show that “consumers are looking not only for superior functional value when buying organic food but also for an emotional experience of consumption.” People who are willing to pay more for organic food are also generally more conscientious and tend to test highly for the personality trait of openness.
O Organics products are available across the Albertsons 24 store banners. The O Organics selection includes many staples like eggs, milk, vegetables, and olive oils, which makes them an easy transition for households that are less price-resistant.
Ongoing Efforts to Overcome Food Insecurity
Albertsons signed a merger agreement last October to be acquired by rival supermarket chain The Kroger Co. The acquiring company’s own Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation has donated over 3 billions meals as of first quarter 2023 since its 2017 inception.
The companies have announced a plan following the merger’s completion to donate 10 billion meals by 2030. “Ten billion meals is enough food to feed every person in the cities of Seattle, Denver, Chicago and Boston every meal, every day, for nearly two years,” the companies said in a statement.