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OPN Connect Newsletter 345 · November 9, 2023

Giant Eagle Ranks Highest on 2023 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard, Followed by Walmart and Whole Foods


The environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth (FOE) recently released its annual Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard, which ranks 25 of the largest US grocery retailers on their efforts to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides. The scorecard revealed Giant Eagle as the most pollinator-friendly retailer, followed by Walmart and Whole Foods Market.  

“We looked at whether these [retailers] are setting goals to reduce use of key toxic pesticides, what they are doing to increase organic offerings, and whether they are taking steps to support non-organic farmers to shift to least-toxic approaches,” said Kendra Klein, deputy director of science at FOE and author of the 2023 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard report. “We also looked at whether they are educating consumers about these issues and if they are using their power to advocate for public policies that shift government support from pesticide-intensive agriculture to organic and ecological farming systems.”


Kendra Klein, Deputy Director of Science, Friends of the Earth

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Of the 25 retailers analyzed by Friends of the Earth, 12 have pollinator-health policies, and Giant Eagle is the only company to have a measurable pesticide-reduction goal. The Pennsylvania-based retailer is requiring all its suppliers to eliminate the use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids by 2025—and to not replace them with other pollinator-toxic chemicals. In addition, the company is mandating that by 2025 all its produce suppliers employ integrated pest management (IPM), an environmentally sensitive approach that uses chemical interventions only as a last resort.

Like Giant Eagle, Walmart is also requiring that all its produce and floral suppliers use IPM by 2025. Additionally, the company is encouraging suppliers to eliminate nitroguanidine neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos and to provide annual reporting of pesticide application and biodiversity management.

While Whole Foods does not have a dedicated pollinator-health policy, it still ranked highly on the scorecard due to its pesticide monitoring efforts (via a partnership with the Equitable Food Initiative) as well as its strong support of organic ag. 

Vitalis April 2024

“Whole Foods reports the most extensive set of practices supporting US organic growers, including committing to price floors for farmers in transition to organic, providing financial support for organic and family-scale farmers via loans, and investing resources in educating suppliers about organic practices and how to transition,” said Klein. “Whole Foods was also the only company to report that they advocate for federal policies that support strong organic standards and increased funding for organic research.”

Friends of the Earth advocates for an expansion of organic agriculture in the US as a way to reverse pollinator declines and is asking grocery retailers to make organics at least 15 percent of their overall offerings or sales by 2025.

“[Of the 25 retailers], Whole Foods reports the most extensive set of practices supporting US organic growers, including committing to price floors for farmers in transition to organic, providing financial support for organic and family-scale farmers via loans, and investing resources in educating suppliers about organic practices and how to transition.” - Kendra Klein

“Organic is the gold standard for pesticide reduction,” said Klein. “Organic farmers grow abundant food without the use of an estimated 900 pesticide active ingredients allowed in non-organic farming, including neonicotinoids, glyphosate, and organophosphates. Research shows that organic farming benefits pollinators, people, and the planet. … Organic farms support up to 50 percent more pollinating species than pesticide-intensive farms and help other beneficial insects flourish.”

Of the 25 retailers surveyed, Friends of the Earth found that only three other retailers in addition to Whole Foods have initiatives aimed at increasing US organic food production. Costco is actively working with US farmers and ranchers to help them transition their land to organic, and The Giant Company (a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize) has a partnership with Rodale Institute to support organic farmer training and research. Wegmans, a New York-based retail chain, has its own research-oriented organic farm in Canandaigua.

“Organic is the gold standard for pesticide reduction. Organic farmers grow abundant food without the use of an estimated 900 pesticide active ingredients allowed in non-organic farming, including neonicotinoids, glyphosate, and organophosphates.” - Kendra Klein

“US production of organic crops is not keeping pace with growing consumer demand,” said Klein. “The gap is increasingly being filled by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of imports. Grocery retailers can help expand organic agriculture in the US by supporting farmers during transition, prioritizing products from domestic organic farmers, and pushing for public policies to advance the US organic sector. This would be a win-win-win: retailers will ensure a steady supply of high-quality organic products, US farmers and local communities will get an economic boost, and US agriculture will become more pollinator- and climate-friendly.”

Homegrown Organic Farms April 2024

Now in its fourth year, the Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard is part of an ongoing campaign that was developed in response to a pollinator health crisis in the US. According to the scorecard report, beekeepers lost more than 48 percent of their honeybee colonies this year, 25 percent of wild bee species have not been seen since the 1990s, and many invertebrate pollinators face extinction. With 75 percent of all food crops dependent on pollinators, such large losses of these important insects represent a real risk for the food supply.   

“Grocery retailers can help expand organic agriculture in the US by supporting farmers during transition, prioritizing products from domestic organic farmers, and pushing for public policies to advance the US organic sector. This would be a win-win-win: retailers will ensure a steady supply of high-quality organic products, US farmers and local communities will get an economic boost, and US agriculture will become more pollinator- and climate-friendly.” - Kendra Klein

“Amid rising concern about an insect apocalypse decimating the small but mighty pollinators responsible for one in three bites of food we eat, grocery retailers are beginning to step up to address the pervasive use of toxic pesticides in their supply chains,” said Klein. “But bees are dying at astonishing rates. Retailers must take immediate, measurable action to address their role in the biodiversity crisis. … Grocery stores can use their enormous market power to reduce the use of toxic pesticides on farms in the US and around the world and bolster farmers’ ability to rapidly transition to organic and ecological farming systems.” 

Friends of the Earth’s 2023 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard can be found here.

Creekside Organics April 2024
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