Jan 11, 2024
Whole Foods Market unveils new pollinator health policy

Whole Foods Market announced a new pollinator policy for its fresh produce and floral purchasing to support pollinators in recognition of the critical role they play in our food system and the environment. The company has long championed pollinator health through its commitment to organic agriculture, which prohibits toxic persistent pesticides.

As part of the new pollinator policy, by 2025, the company will:

  • Require all fresh produce and floral growers to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, which prioritizes preventative and biological pest control measures and reduces the need for chemical pesticides.
  • Prohibit the use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids (clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in all potted plants they sell.
  • Encourage all fresh produce and floral suppliers to phase out the use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids.

In addition to honeybees, Whole Foods Market recognizes native pollinators, such as bumble bees, wasps, and butterflies, are critical to the food system and an important indicator of biodiversity.

“We understand the important role pollinators play in our food system and, through this policy, will build on our long legacy of supporting biodiversity and pollinator health,” said Karen Christensen, senior vice president, Perishables & Quality Standards at Whole Foods Market. “This is another critical step forward in our journey of climate-smart agriculture as part of our purpose to nourish people and the planet.”

The company engages its foundations and internationally recognized third parties to create campaigns that raise awareness of pollinators and their impact. In addition, its Whole Kids Bee Grant Program helps schools and non-profit organizations receive support for educational beehives and bee programming so students can observe bees up close and learn more about the vital role of pollinators. Since 2014, the Whole Kids Bee Grant program has awarded more than 850 educational beehives to schools and nonprofits with support from The Bee Cause Project.

Whole Foods Market continues to work across the industry to encourage all fresh produce and floral suppliers to phase out the use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids, which are particularly harmful to pollinators, and pave the way for other solutions. Whole Foods Market suppliers like Rainier Fruit continue to demonstrate their commitment to advancing pollinator health by maintaining 150 acres of dedicated pollinator habitat, in addition to 325 acres of Bee Better Certified orchard in partnership with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

“Every single piece of fruit we grow requires pollination. We wouldn’t have a crop without honeybees, so pollinator health is of utmost importance for us as farmers,” said Mark Zirkle, president of Rainier Fruit. “We’re appreciative of Whole Food’s advocacy and look forward to continued efforts towards more sustainable agriculture.”

For more information on how Whole Foods Market is protecting pollinators and raising awareness for the critical role they play in our lives, visit https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-in-action/environmental-stewardship/pollinator-health.