(April 30, 4:10 p.m.) From the construction of energy-efficient stores to the type of bags they offer consumers to carry home their groceries, sustainability is a top-of-mind issue for supermarket executives.

Achieving savings for retailers and improving consumer relations by going green is the central topic at the Food Marketing Institute’s Food Industry Sustainability Summit planned for June 16-18 in Minneapolis.

Officials with the Washington, D.C.-based FMI describe the event as the first-ever sustainability summit designed to meet the needs of food retailers and wholesalers.

“The overarching response from retailers is because consumers are focused and interested in this,” said Jeanne von Zastrow, senior director of field services for FMI. “It also offers a lot of opportunity for retailers when it comes to improving the bottom line,”

For example, she said, retail investments in solutions for waste management and energy saving have not only been the right thing to do but have added money to supermarket bottom line.

Consumer interest in sustainability will be an issue that won’t lose relevance, she said.

“We think that this is an issue that is here to stay and will continue to grow because it is not only being driven by the emerging green consumer, it is being driven by globalization, the media, consumers, the education system and government,” she said.

That pressure and momentum for sustainability is prompting FMI to help wholesalers and retailers find ways to respond to the trend, von Zastrow said.

The summit will allow attendees to hear some of the retail success stories, von Zastrow said, helping food wholesalers and retailers think through how they could implement changes.

World Wildlife Fund president and chief executive officer Carter Roberts is the scheduled keynote speaker. Roberts will discuss how to use market forces to fight climate change.

Presentations from some of the pioneers in the industry also are scheduled, von Zastrow said.

Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of Bemporad Baranowski Marketing Group, will present consumer research showing how consumers reward companies that are honest about their practices and accountable for their effect on the environment.

The second day of the summit will evaluate strategic plans and resources necessary for green initiatives, von Zastrow said. The third day, she said, will look at implementation and bottom-line returns, with a panel of five retailers talking about the challenges of implementing sustainability solutions.

Workshops throughout the event are designed to consider sustainability in the context of consumer relations, energy, marketing, operations, packaging, store development, supply chain management and transportation.

The last presentation of the summit is planned to review the results of a study of what the consumer sustainability movement will mean for the future of the food industry, she said.

“People will walk away from this summit armed with strategies, planning and background to move (sustainability) forward with their companies,’ she said.

Beside events like the Sustainability Summit, von Zastrow said FMI’s sustainability task force — represented by 17 companies — is considering policy recommendations for the FMI board.

In particular, von Zastrow said the task force is considering recommendations about plastic bags and the concept of a carbon footprint.