I urge you to help protect bees, butterflies and other pollinators, upon which our food supply depends, by committing to establish a pollinator protection policy that includes the phase-out of pollinator-toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids and glyphosate, in your company’s supply chain and encourage suppliers to employ alternative pest management strategies. I also urge your company to increase USDA certified organic food and beverages to 15 percent of overall offerings by 2025, prioritizing domestic, regional and local producers.
Bees are essential to the production of one out of every three bites of food we eat and without them your store would run out of many of the products it sells, such as strawberries, almonds, apples and broccoli. Globally, between $235 billion and $577 billion worth of annual food production relies on direct contributions by pollinators. A growing body of science points to the world’s most widely-used insecticides, neonicotinoids, as a leading factor in bee declines, and glyphosate, the most widely-used herbicide worldwide, as a key culprit in monarch butterfly declines.
A new report by Friends of the Earth, Swarming the Aisles: Rating top retailers on bee-friendly and organic food, grades 20 of the largest food retailers in the U.S on their policies and practices regarding pollinator protection, organic offerings and pesticide reduction. Of the top food retailers, 17 received an “F” for failing to have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate pesticide use to protect pollinators. Kroger received an F for pollinator protection as well.
The report also found that while consumer demand for organic and sustainable, pesticide-free food items is increasing and major food retailers have started to increase their organic food offerings, few major food retailers have adopted clear goals or metrics outlining policies to continue to significantly increase organic food offerings in the future. Your store provides organic food, including its own organic line, Simple Truth®, but it has not provided a metric for increasing sales in the future. According to publicly available data, Kroger’s overall organic sales are only 1 percent of its total sales. Your company's organic sales are far behind those of its competitors such as Costco and Whole Foods.
Because you are the second-largest retailer in the U.S., I urge you to be a leader on this issue. I call on your company to adopt formal policies to stop selling food grown with neonicotinoids, glyphosate and other pollinator-toxic pesticides and significantly increase your organic offerings, prioritizing local, regional and domestic suppliers.
A YouGov Poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Sum of Us conducted in 2016 found that 80 percent of Americans believe it is important to eliminate neonicotinoids from agriculture. Among Americans who grocery shop for their household, 65 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that has formally committed to eliminating neonicotinoids. Further, 59 percent of American grocery shoppers believe it is important for grocery stores to sell organic food, and 43 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that sells more organic food than their current grocery store.
Organic farms -- farms that have eliminated all synthetic pesticides -- have been shown to support 50 percent more pollinator species than conventional farms while also protecting and regenerating the water, soil and other resources that we need to produce healthy food for generations to come.
As a concerned customer I ask that you help protect the bees and our food supply by committing to offer significantly more organic food options in your stores, while taking major steps to eliminate food produced with pollinator-toxic pesticides.