Thirty years ago, walking into a conventional grocery store to buy organic produce, sustainably sourced seafood and grass-fed beef seemed as far-fetched as the prospect of hover boards and driverless cars.
How times have changed!
Yet, what hasn’t changed is PCC’s leadership in supporting a healthier food system. We’ve advocated for a stronger organic supply chain since the 1980s when Washington State enacted some of the strongest organic standards in the country. We were also the first full retail partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program back in 2004 and were among the first food markets to sell grass-fed beef seven years ago.
Food advocacy is a thread woven through every area of our store. PCC continues to be committed to labeling all genetically-engineered products in our stores by 2018 and to be a non-GMO retailer. Walk through our produce department, and 95 percent of the fruits and vegetables are organic.
Venture into our grocery aisles, and you’ll discover examples of the co-op working behind the scenes as a respected voice in the national conversation. Zevia announced last year it would no longer use caramel coloring in its colas and root beers. PCC is credited with encouraging that change.
Within our health and body care department, we took a fresh look at ingredients for safety, efficacy, sourcing and environmental impact. Using these criteria as a guide we identified more than 500 ingredients that are no longer allowed in the health and body care products we carry.
Our focus on these issues is all part of our dedication to a triple bottom line, measuring the co-op’s success by environmental, social and financial accomplishments.
This past year was one of the strongest yet for our co-op across all three measures. The above efforts speak to our environmental work and how it manifests in our stores. Social responsibility also starts in the stores — with our staff. PCC employs nearly 1,400 people in our region. For many, we’re not only a great first job but also a wonderful place to build a career.
Outside our stores, we contributed to nonprofits, including Seattle Tilth, Seattle Children’s and FareStart while also using shopper donations to fund 55 tons of nutritious food delivered to 12 food bank partners.
We were able to achieve all of this while growing sales to over $250 million for the year, net earnings to $5.5 million and our membership to more than 56,000 households. Each of these solidifies PCC’s leadership as the largest consumer-owned retail grocer in the country.
But perhaps the most exciting event in 2015 was the move out of our Seward Park location and into our new Columbia City home. Seward Park holds a special place in our hearts and in PCC’s history. We were excited to bring so many members with us to the new location while welcoming new shoppers into our community.
Finally, as promised last year, we launched delivery, making shopping more convenient for our current members and shoppers, and bringing PCC to new corners of Seattle. If you can’t make it to a nearby store, then we will bring the store to you.
As you can see, 2015 was a strong year for our co-op. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together: Our continued commitment to a triple bottom line, and our groundbreaking role in bringing natural and organic foods to the fore.
The outlook for the future of our co-op is bright! In keeping with our pioneering spirit, it’s exciting to imagine how some of our efforts today around topics like animal welfare and helping farmers navigate the challenges of climate change will impact our food choices 30 years from now. Whatever the future may hold, PCC will continue to stay true to our values and our love of food,
CEO, PCC Natural Markets