Sustainability Certification


Any store can benefit from the savings, efficiencies and branding that come with being sustainable. The Ratio Institute have been working with food retailers even before the word sustainability was part of our everyday lingo. With their updated and rebranded program, a retailer can obtain a Sustainability Food Retail Certification and all the support and coaching they need from a neutral non-profit organization whose objective is to offer guidance and assistance to retailers.

Why Get Certified?

Certification will help your store achieve operational excellence and meet sustainability goals by benchmarking performance, reducing costs, and increasing margins.

  1. Earn Recognition: Demonstrate sustainability leadership and earn differentiation in the market.
  2. Cut Costs: Gain visibility at each store and address opportunities to reduce cost and increase margins
  3. Mitigate Risk: Consistent performance tracking across stores, allowing transparency and risk mitigation.
  4. Systematize Sustainability: Systematize sustainability management across the portfolio.
  5. Demonstrate Performance: Benchmark ESG performance along a clear path for improvement

Certification Description

• The Sustainable Food Retail Certification program is an annual certification.
• There are two separate Standards: Store-Level and Enterprise-Level.
• Certification requires that enrolled stores and the enterprise complete online self-assessments (1-2 hours each) each year.
• There are 17 Modules (practice areas) across the two Standards
• The Certification employs a tiered approach.
• Certification requires verification of Critical Practices using a desk audit.

Certification Levels

Complies with requirements to prevent pollution, provides safe working environment, ensures safe food products, and invests in basic efficiency measures.

Has a public sustainability commitment, prioritizes community engagement and employee satisfaction, and prioritizes investments in efficiency improvement and impact reduction measures.

Has clear sustainability goals and commitments to drastically reduce or eliminate the biggest environmental and social impacts of its operations.

Has integrated sustainability as an operational principal, and has invested in promoting the circular economy, net zero carbon, diversity, equity & inclusion, and sustainable and ethical supply chains in its operations.

  1. Watch the video to learn all the details of the certification.
  2. Complete the contact us form. A member of the Ratio Institute will contact you for an initial consultation and get you started.
  3. When you sign up for the certification, you will receive:
    • Instructions
    • Copy of the Certification Guide and Standard
    • Invitation to complete an assessments for the Enterprise and store(s)
    • Schedule
    • Contact information
    • Resources (ie. RI newsletters, maintaining momentum docs, RI hotline for sustainability)
  4. There are two options for the certification assessment:

A. Virtual

    1. The retailer completes and submits workbook to RI. The retailer receives detailed instructions and coaching to complete the assessment.
    2. RI verifies and reviews data in the assessments and may contact the retailer for clarification when necessary. Then, RI prepares a custom report.

RI and the retailer have a virtual meeting to debrief their report and plan next steps for the retailer.

    1. RI awards the certification at the level earned by the retailer.
    2. If failed, 90-day grace period  to complete corrective actions + technical assistance
    3. Retailer renews the certification annually, at a discounted rate (depending on number of stores signed up)

B. In-Person

The In-Person assessment follows the same process as the virtual certification. The main difference is the in-person visit(s) of the RI assessor. An in-person visit will allow the assessor to have a deeper understanding of your operation and notice things that your team may be blinded to due to familiarity, resulting in a more targeted advice and recommendations.

C. In a Cohort

Same process as the virtual Certification but enhanced by a cohort. A diverse group of stores will go through the certification process as a cohort much like a share group. The certification will follow a cohort timeline, the same for all participating stores. The cost of the certification will have a cohort discount.
Check with us for when the next cohort will start.

  1. The store-level assessment typically takes 2-3 hours to complete. The Enterprise-level assessment will take no more than an hour to complete. Once assessments are submitted, the certification process can take between two weeks and two months, depending on whether it is a single store or a group and whether the assessment is online or in-person. During the initial consultation you will receive a timeline for your certification.Below are average times:
    • Single store: 2 weeks (approximately)
    • Multi-store groups: up to 8 weeks (depending in the number of stores)
  • An official certificate
  • A certification seal or badge in electronic format that the store can use in their marketing and branding materials for sharing on social media.
  • Listing on the Sustainable Food Retail Certification webpage
  • Announcement of certification status on Ratio Institute’s social channels.
  • Participation in the certified stores share group
  • Newsletter for certified stores
  • Exclusive access to RI hotline for sustainability

A store that does not meet the qualifications for the initial level of Advocate has a 90-day grace period to complete corrective actions and the necessary technical assistance to reach the level.

  • One-on-one technical assistance:
    • 3 calls
    • Unlimited emails
  • Roadmap to “Advocate” PDF certification level

The stores that engage in the certification process will receive a rating based on their certification scores.

These are the 4 levels, starting with the initial level:

  • Advocate – Some sustainable practices
  • Steward – Implementing efficiencies
  • Leader – Long-term viability
  • Luminary – Creating value + leadership

The sustainability path is one of continuous growth. The certification is valid for a year. The goal of the renewal process is to help the store sustain their achievements and reach new goals to advance their sustainability profile.

  • The certification is valid for 1 year.
  • The retailer will renew the certification at a discounted rate.
  • The retailer will be notified at six, three, and one month before their certification expires.

The cost of the certification varies based on:

  • Single store
  • Multiple stores certified under a chain or business entity
  • Multiple stores where they are certified as part of a cohort
  • Whether the assessment is performed online (virtual) or in-person

The cost ranges from approximately $600 to $2000 per store. Volume discounts apply. Our commitment is to make the certification affordable to all retailers. In some cases, grants may apply.

You can start the certification by contacting us here.