Friends of the Earth’s 2023 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard found that the trillion-dollar grocery industry isn’t doing enough to protect bees and other biodiversity from toxic pesticides.
According to Friends of the Earth’s 2023 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard, a report tracking what the biggest U.S. retailers are doing to address toxic pesticides used in their supply chains that affect bees and other biodiversity, Giant Eagle upped its score from a B to B+ for its efforts this past year, receiving the highest score. However, four food retailers actually lost points for not making significant progress toward their pollinator health policy goals: Albertsons, Costco, newly bankrupt Rite Aid and Target, which earned D, C, D and D- grades, respectively. The scorecard evaluated 25 companies.
Ranking after Giant Eagle were Walmart and Whole Foods Market, both of which earned a B- from Friends of the Earth. At the bottom were Wegmans, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Amazon, H-E-B, Walgreens, Hy-Vee, Dollar General, 7-Eleven, Publix Super Markets and Wakefern Food Corp., all of which received a failing grade of F.
[Read more: “ Giant Eagle’s Nature’s Basket Brand Now Responsibly Sourced”]
To date, Giant Eagle is the only major U.S. food retailer to set a measurable goal for pesticide reduction. The grocer’s policy aims to eliminate the use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids, which have been banned in the European Union since 2018 but are still allowed in the United States, from its produce supply chain by 2025.
“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 Kendra Klein, deputy director of science at Washington, D.C.-based Friends of the Earth. “But bees are dying at astonishing rates. Retailers must take immediate, measurable action to address their role in the biodiversity crisis.”
Although 12 grocery companies have created pesticide policies addressing pollinator health so far – Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, CVS, Dollar Tree, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, Rite Aid, Southeastern Grocers, Target and Walmart – Friends of the Earth’s scorecard found that the trillion-dollar industry isn’t doing enough to protect bees and other biodiversity from toxic pesticides. The same pesticides that endanger biodiversity are also linked to climate change and human health, the organization noted.
The scorecard also evaluated companies on their organic offerings. Organic regulations ban the use of more than 900 synthetic pesticides, including highly hazardous chemicals. Only two of the companies, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, have organic offerings that exceed 15% of overall sales, a goal Friends of the Earth is encouraging all major retailers to meet by 2025.
Pollinators contribute $34 billion to the U.S. economy and as much as $577 billion to the global economy annually. Friends of the Earth cited research indicating that pollinator loss has already led to decreased production of such crops as apples and cherries.
The Bee-Friendly Retailer campaign is supported by 100-plus beekeeping, farming, farmworker, consumer and environmental organizations, among them the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, which works with dollar store retailers to phase out harmful chemicals.
Giant Eagle operates approximately 480 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. The Pittsburgh-based company is No. 40 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Top 10 Most Sustainable Grocers.