CINCINNATI, June 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced a new policy to protect pollinators that includes a commitment to phase out sourcing of live garden plants in stores and garden centers that have been treated with neonicotinoids, a group of insecticides that are harmful to honey bees, by 2020.

The Kroger Co. Logo (PRNewsFoto/The Kroger Co.) (PRNewsFoto/The Kroger Co.)

Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a growing selection of organic fruits and vegetables.

Kroger remains open to continued engagement and dialogue with stakeholders on this important topic and will revisit and update its policy in the future. The new policy follows.

Commitment to Phase Out Neonicotinoid Treated Outdoor Plants

The Kroger Co. recognizes the global honey bee population is vulnerable, with research indicating that a cause may include the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids. Due to the potential risk to the honey bee population, we are committing to eliminate the sourcing of live outdoor plants in our stores and garden centers that have been treated with pesticides containing these neonicotinoids by the year 2020. This policy is inclusive of outdoor plants known to be pollinated by honey bees or known to attract honey bees.

Today, the majority of live plant sales in Kroger’s garden center and outdoor floral selection are not treated with neonicotinoids during the growing process. Our suppliers are actively seeking alternative options for the remaining products, and we are committed to working with them to ensure proper alternatives have been identified by 2020. We will also track, measure and report on our progress against this commitment.

Kroger will rely on the expertise of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and other scientific experts to evaluate any possible updates to this policy.

At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: to Feed the Human Spirit. We are nearly half a million associates who serve over nine million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,779 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom and investor relations site

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SOURCE The Kroger Co.