Kroger released an update to its pollinator policy encouraging suppliers to move away from pesticides and adopt alternative pest management.
“We recognize the global honeybee population is vulnerable, with research indicating that causes may include the use of certain pesticides, including neonicotinoids. Due to the potential risk to the honeybee population, we support and encourage efforts to protect these pollinator species,” Kroger said in its updated policy.
As part of the policy, Kroger said it is committed to eliminating the sourcing of live outdoor plants that have been treated with pesticides containing neonicotinoids in its stores and garden centers by 2020. This commitment is inclusive of outdoor plants known to be pollinated by honeybees or known to attract honeybees.
Today, the majority of live plant sales in Kroger’s garden center and outdoor floral selection are not treated with neonicotinoids during the growing process. “Our suppliers are actively seeking alternative options for the remaining products, and we are committed to working with them to ensure proper alternatives have been identified by 2020. We will also track, measure and report on our progress against this commitment,” Kroger said.
The grocer added that it supports the expansion of the organic food industry and will continue to offer its customers organic products.
Kroger also said it will keep informed of new science. “Kroger will rely on the expertise of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other scientific experts and our stakeholders to evaluate further updates to this policy,” it said.
Friends of the Earth and other environmental, consumer, beekeeper and farmworker groups have pressured Kroger for more than three years to eliminate the use of the pesticides, and they called the announcement a “small but robust victory.”
“This is a step in the right direction to protect people and pollinators from toxic pesticides in Kroger’s supply chain,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at Friends of the Earth. “However, this policy is non-binding and vague. We urge Kroger and other top food retailers to do their part in addressing the pollinator crisis by making clear, time-bound commitments to phase out chlorpyrifos, neonicotinoids, glyphosate and other toxic pesticides throughout their entire food supply chains.”
Costco similarly updated its pesticide policy to encourage suppliers of fruits, vegetables and garden plants to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids.