The paper aims to provide a systematic overview of the drivers and barriers for food retailers to implement corporate supply chain responsibility. The research is based on a literature analysis and semi-structured interviews with food retailers, with primary focus on Swedish conventional supermarket chains. The paper contributes to the existing body of research by providing the food retailers’ own perspective on the factors that trigger addressing sustainability concerns in their supply chain and by providing a taxonomy of drivers and barriers. As a result, a number of additional factors that influence the launch of responsible supply chain practices have been identified. Interestingly some of these factors are beyond the trivial driver-barrier dichotomy. This paper is of interest to food retailers who aim to design sustainable supply chain strategies and justify associated investments, and for policymakers who aim to support retailers in their transition towards sustainable practices.