Kudrinko’s, a 10,000 sq. ft. independent grocer in Westport, Ont., is the first Canadian store to win Grocery Stewardship Certification.
The certification from the Massachusetts-based Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences was developed to make the grocery sector more sustainable.
The GSC recognition comes with having achieved a level of points towards certification. If a store is corporately-owned, the score has to reach 150 points to be eligible. Independent operators must achieve 100 points to be certified.
Kudrinko’s scored 198 in its first attempt, and reduced energy costs by 40 per cent.
Store owner Neil Kudrinko and his wife, Martha (both pictured) took over the 25-year-old family business from Neil’s father. Kudrinko is a former Green Party candidate who says he aims to show that going green makes good business sense.
His store reduced CO2 emissions by 60 per cent, from 195 metric tonnes to about 74. Kudrinko said the efforts were “driven by a recognition that sustainability was connected to our long term success as a company.”
Kudrinko’s completely renovated its building in 2007, replacing inefficient compressors and redoing the roof to withstand the weight of new HVAC systems.
He recently installed 24 feet of new dairy and meat cases, outfitted with glass doors and LED lighting. Kudrinko said they are 80% more efficient than the old ones, and are able to hold more product, which allowed him expand selection. He eventually plans to convert the entire store to LED lighting.
Kudrinko spent about $800,000 on the improvements–costs that will be amortized over eight years.
“Remaining competitive forces us to look at all aspects of our business,” said Kudrinko.
He has reduced waste by offering farmers waste scraps of meat and produce to feed farm animals and dogs. He recycles his plastic wrap and rebuilt his parking lot with a drainage system that allows storm water to filter through the ground as opposed to using the town’s sewage system.
The store not only uses only environmentally-friendly cleaning products, recycled bags and paper products, it also supports the local food bank, fish habitat and Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit dedicated to wetland conservation.
“We gain an affinity with our customers,” said Kudrinko. “Price cannot be your main marketing strategy. It’s easy for a customer to find someone that’s cheaper, [but] if you communicate values that go beyond price, it’s a far greater relationship … and more resilient.”
Neil Kudrinko is a 2014 winner of Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of grocery industry personnel under 40.