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More Retailers Are Requiring Produce to be Certified as Pollinator-Friendly

By Cameron Newell and Eric Mader on 13. June 2024
Cameron Newell and Eric Mader

In a big win for conservation, Kroger, one of the top 5 food retailers in the USA, will now require all fresh produce suppliers to use more pollinator-friendly practices by 2030! With similar recent commitments by Walmart and Giant Eagle, more and more major companies are making an effort to protect pollinators.

Under the new rules, food suppliers must implement practices designed to reduce pesticide use, called integrated pest management (IPM). To ensure that IPM practices are being used correctly, suppliers also need to achieve one of the biodiversity-focused certifications picked by Kroger, including Xerces’ Bee Better Certified!

 

A plastic container of blueberries at a grocery store. The packaging is labeled with the Bee Better Certified seal.
Launched in 2017, the Bee Better Certified seal indicates that certified ingredients were independently verified to have been grown in ways that support bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. (Photo: Cameron Newell)

 

IPM and biodiversity certifications help create a better agriculture system

Integrated pest management practices are an economically viable and sustainable approach to pest control. By minimizing reliance on pesticides and preserving habitat, IPM provides a huge benefit to wildlife, creating resilient populations of pollinators and beneficial insects (many of which hunt pest species). Reduced pesticide use is also safer and healthier for farm workers as well.

IPM and other biodiversity-friendly practices are increasingly popular with both consumers and, in turn, food sellers. Third-party verified certification programs are essential to making sure people can trust a product’s claims of being healthier for wildlife. Programs use scientifically-backed and standardized methods to assess a grower’s IPM practices, carbon accounting, and the biodiversity found on the farm. Because inspectors for these certification programs are independent from the grower, retailers, and the program itself, they provide a more reliable assessment. 

 

A large bee resting on a cluster of pink flowers.
Certification programs make sure farmers are actually implementing practices that help pollinators, like this carpenter bee. (Photo: Cameron Newell / Xerces Society)

 

Bee Better Certified sets the standard for biodiversity conservation in agriculture

Bee Better Certified is the first third-party certification created specifically for pollinator health and biodiversity on farms, and is still the most rigorous. To qualify, farms need to build and protect pollinator habitat, use sustainable agricultural practices, and reduce pesticide use. The Bee Better label highlights food coming from farms that follow the highest standard in pollinator conservation, giving farmers a way to stand out from competitor’s products. 

 

A hedgerow of flowering native plants on a farm.
Adding hedgerows of native plants is one way farmers can provide the pollinator habitat needed as part of the Bee Better Certified requirements. (Photo: Xerces Society)

 

A brighter future for pollinators and agriculture

Whether for supply chain stability or growing consumer sentiment, the shift to requiring IPM and biodiversity-focused certifications is a sign of a better future for pollinators and other wildlife on farms. With two of the largest retail companies in the US already making bold commitments, more are likely to follow. Due to the modern expectation for varied fresh produce all year round, the new certification requirements will improve conditions in agricultural systems all around the world.

We are grateful to our food sector partners working together to prioritize pollinators on farms. This conservation success continues to be made possible through the great efforts of our friends and colleagues at the IPM Institute, Friends of the Earth, Kroger, Whole Foods Market, Walmart, and the hundreds of farmer-suppliers backing up this goal.

 

Learn more

Authors

Cameron manages the day-to-day operations of the Xerces Society's food industry supply chain projects in California, Oregon and Washington, coordinating with partner organizations and individual landowners to promote pollinator conservation. Cameron also coordinates Bee Better Certified, a food industry certification program managed by Xerces that works with farmers and food companies to conserve bees and other pollinators in agricultural lands.

As Pollinator and Agricultural Biodiversity Co-Director, Eric manages staff focused on large-scale habitat restoration, conservation biocontrol, native seed research and development, and outreach to farmers, private businesses, and government agencies. His professional background includes commercial beekeeping, native seed production, and consulting for various specialty crop industries.

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