This post, as well as my travel accommodations, were sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. All opinions are my own, as always. Thanks for supporting brands that make Zen & Spice possible!
Back in August, I had the pleasure of traveling to Phoenix to visit the Sprouts Farmers Market headquarters! As you may know, I have been working with Sprouts for over a year now. It’s a store I frequent almost every week for the freshest produce– and have been for years. When they initially reached out last year to partner, I was ecstatic! I’m a total food and grocery store geek and could spend hours at at a time wandering the aisles and exploring new products.
Our friends over at Sprouts invited myself and nine other food bloggers/dietitians out for a four-day extravaganza in Phoenix, AZ. We had lunch with the Chief Operations and Marketing Officers, made Japanese hot-pot meals with the marketing team, and experienced Sprouts Fest, a yearly educational summit put on by Sprouts for it’s team members. The tabletop show itself was full of over 500 vendors and we had a blast exploring new products. The marketing team put us up for challenges such as an IG story takeover, writing copy for a new product, a gift basket challenge, and a chopped-style cook-off.
I have to give a shout out to the marketing team for hand-picking some of the nicest fellow bloggers to go on this trip! This was the most fun I’ve had on a press trip and I attribute that to this wonderful group of women. Meet (from left to right) Dixya, Shashi, Erin, Katie, Abigail, Marissa, Suzanne, Joanna, and Dawn.
You’d think we were just a bunch of girlfriends out on a girl’s trip— we laughed together and had a blast. I think the fact that there were only 10 of us helped actually have the opportunity to get to know one another much better.
I learned so much about Sprouts during this trip– but a couple things stood out the most. Sprouts is dedicated to what they call “responsible retailing”– operating business in a way that respects social and environmental well-being. This is so unique for a grocery store to take this stance. The effort that Sprouts is putting towards sustainability and giving back to their community was really impressive!
Responsible Operations & Building
We had the opportunity to tour a Phoenix area store led by Sprouts’ head of sustainability. One of the first things he pointed out was the skylights– which I had never noticed! Sprouts is in the process of converting all their stores over to 100 percent LED lighting (which is significantly more energy efficient), used in combination with skylights. The LED lights actually turn themselves down automatically on sunny days. Does your local Sprouts have skylights? Look next time you’re there!
Almost 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the US, and food retailers are responsible for nearly 42 billion of those pounds. Sprouts is committed to reach a “zero waste” threshold by 2020. So far, they’ve diverted more than 12 million pounds of food from landfills by providing it to local farms as animal feed or to composting facilities.
We toured the back of the house stocking room, where we saw multiple sustainability projects, such as the boxes above labeled for their Food Rescue program. At the end of the day, Sprouts donates all unsold and edible but not marketable groceries to Feeding America. Any produce that does not pass the daily quality check in the distribution centers, but still fit for human consumption, also gets donated. Relief agencies pick up excess or damaged produce that would otherwise go to waste. Since the start of the program in 2013, Sprouts has donated more than 43 million pounds of food– that’s more than 35 million meals!
Sprouts is also dedicated to recycling– in 2016, more than 500,000 pounds of plastic bags and shrink wrap was recycled. Sprouts encourages customers to bring their own reusable bags (I own probably 20 of the “Just Keep Brusselin'” bags) to help reduce waste. In 2016 alone, they recycled more than 70 million pounds of cardboard.
Something else neat — food coolers have a pull-down cover to keep the cold air in when the store is closed. I’ve never seen that before!
Sprouts sets certain standards for what products are sold in their stores. They set standards for sustainable sourcing, ethical purchasing, product traceability and fair treatment of people and animals. Sprouts supports local brands, including produce and meats. They require that the produce suppliers comply with Good Agricultural Practices, which includes limiting water usage and enhancing employee safety and hygiene.
We spent about half a day learning about the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. Founded in 2015, the foundation supports health and wellness related causes that directly impacts its surrounding neighborhoods where customers and team members live. They’re currently partners with REAL School Gardens, Vitamin Angels, and Autism Speaks.
In Arizona, Sprouts works directly with the Southwest Autism Research & Recourse Center (SARRC). Adults with autism can have a very difficult time finding employment, so SARRC begun the The Beneficial Beans® Initiative to offer employment training. Beneficial Beans has two cafes in the Phoenix area, a garden (with a $20/week CSA!) and a shop. And, 100% of the proceeds go toward adults with autism.
I was truly impressed with the amount of effort that Sprouts is putting into being a responsible retailer! They are making a huge difference.
Other Trip Highlights
I wanted to include several of my favorite parts of the trip!
We were tasked with a “Gift Basket Challenge”, where we were given a $100 Sprouts gift card and had to run through the store picking out items to match a theme. Dixya and I worked together to create this “Rise & Shine” basket that actually won! It’ll be donated to those in need.
We had the opportunity to sample items that aren’t even on the shelf yet– such as these salads and sandwiches from the Market Corner. The mozzarella pesto chicken sandwich was AMAZING and I can’t wait to buy it in-store!
A Chopped-like challenge: we were paired up and given a box full of fresh produce and proteins and asked to put together a delicious meal. Erin and I made these sweet potato pancakes topped with a kale slaw and grilled salmon! Yum!
An amazing dinner at Postino Kierland— just look at that bruschetta!!
Overall I had a wonderful time! Loved learning more about my favorite grocery store and hanging out with these wonderful ladies.
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