Giant Eagle and Walmart Rank No. 1 on Bee-Friendly Scorecard
Giant Eagle is the only one of 25 retailers to have a measurable pesticide reduction goal in place. As part of its pollinator health policy — which it first established in 2020 — the Pennsylvania-based grocery chain is demanding that producers of agricultural products cease all use of nitroguanidine-based neonicotinoids by 2025 and prohibits their replacement with other chemicals toxic to pollinators.
Giant Eagle further requires that by 2025, all of its agricultural product suppliers use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an environmentally responsible pest management approach that uses chemical interventions only as a last resort. A supplier’s implementation of IPM should be verified by approved third-party certification or by submitting an IPM plan to Giant Eagle for review by an external entity to ensure it meets a set strict criteria.
A key part of Giant Eagle’s policy is its recognition of organic farming as beneficial to pollinators. As the retailer shares on its website, “Giant Eagle recognizes the positive impact that the expansion of the organic food industry is having in limiting and eliminating the use of all artificial pesticides. The company is committed to providing customers with certified organic products at affordable prices in relevant product categories throughout our store and online and continues to grow the number and variety of organic items in our Giant Eagle family of brands a priority.
Walmart, which had the second-highest score in the FOE 2022 rankings, has a pollinator health policy requiring all of its fresh produce and flower suppliers to have IPM plans by 2025 (as verified by an approved list of third-party certificates).
Walmart’s policy also “encourages product suppliers to phase out pollinator-toxic pesticides — nitroguanidine neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos — and avoid replacing them with a list of other chemicals of concern, and to report annually. pesticide application and biodiversity management,” says Kendra Klein, associate director. of science at FOE and author of the 2022 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard report. “In addition, the policy sets goals around the creation and restoration of pollinator habitat.”
FOE assessed retailers in four areas related to the use of pesticides in their supply chains:
- Pollinator health policy—the presence (or absence) of a pollinator health policy and the strength of that policy.
- Implementation – actions that support pollinator health through pesticide reduction, including offering organic produce and other organic items.
- Transparency and accountability – public availability of pesticide reduction efforts, inclusion of pesticide reduction efforts in key performance indicators, and consumer education related to pollinator health.
- Collaboration—willingness to communicate with FOE.
“We looked at whether these companies were setting targets to reduce the use of key toxic pesticides, what they were doing to increase organic offerings, and whether they were taking steps to help non-organic farmers adopt less toxic approaches. “, says Klein. . “We also examined whether they educate consumers about these issues and whether they use their power to advocate for public policies that shift government support from pesticide-intensive agriculture to organic farming systems and ecological.”
Friends of the Earth began its pollinator-retailer efforts in 2017 to “spur a race to the top” among major U.S. grocery stores in pollinator health.
“Forty percent of pollinating insects, like bees and butterflies, are at risk of extinction, and American beekeepers continue to experience record bee colony losses,” Klein says. “A growing body of research shows that the use of agricultural pesticides is a major threat to pollinator populations. …Without pollinators, grocery store shelves would lack a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and delicious favorites like chocolate and coffee. The choices these powerful corporations make could determine whether bees and butterflies, along with many other beneficial insects, will exist in the future.
When FOE began its work as a retailer-pollinator, Whole Foods was the only company of the 25 to have a policy mentioning pollinator health. However, today 12 of the retailers have pollinator health policies, thanks in large part to FOE scorecards and advocacy efforts. (Two of those retailers — Southeastern Grocers and CVS — launched pollinator health policies this year.)
One of the main ways FOE suggests retailers can help protect pollinators is to increase their organic offerings. Specifically, FOE is asking retailers to expand organic items to 15% of total sales by 2025. So far, two companies have achieved this: Whole Foods (30%) and Trader Joe’s (20%).
“Research shows that organic farming can help reverse pollinator decline,” says Klein. “Organic farms support up to 50% more pollinator species than pesticide-intensive farms and help other beneficial insects thrive.”
“In the hypercompetitive food retail market, strong policies to expand organic offerings and phase out toxic pesticides are key ways for retailers to stand out from the pack,” Klein says. “According to a recent YouGov poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth, 83% of Americans think it’s important to remove pollinator-harming pesticides from agriculture, and 74% think grocery stores should support efforts. protection of pollinators, such as bees and butterflies Eighty-one percent want their food to be free of pesticide residues and 67% believe it is important that the grocery store they shop in sells organic food.
The 2022 Friends of the Earth Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard is available here: https://foe.org/retailer-report-card.