Thursday 4 March 2021: Woolworths has stripped the shelves of its Neutral Bay store in Sydney of fruit, vegetables, and long life products that rely on pollination, illustrating the significant role bees and insects play in Australia’s food supply.
The removal of the products from the shelves in the store coincides with the recent return of Woolworths’ popular Discovery Garden collection, which helps customers grow their own vegetables, herbs, and flowers. This year’s collection has an added emphasis on bees; 21 of the 24 seedlings can attract bees and encourage pollination in local gardens and ecosystems.
Vast amounts of Australia’s floral resources have recently been decimated by drought, bushfires, and floods. Last year’s bushfires resulted in 15.6 million hectares of burnt forests, which provided nectar and pollen required for healthy bees.
Without these resources, popular fruit and vegetables like avocado, apples, cucumbers, pumpkins, rockmelons, watermelons, blueberries, zucchini, macadamias, kiwi fruit would become scarce. Similarly, pantry staples like coffee beans, muesli, cereal, almonds, fruit juices, fruit based jams, canola oil, and sunflower seeds all rely on or include ingredients that require pollination.
Sixty-five per cent of Australian horticultural and agricultural crops require honey bees in order to pollinate, amounting to more than $14 billion contributed to the economy each year. Without bees, these products could cease to appear in supermarket shelves and customers’ plates.
Woolworths Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Hicks said: “As the Fresh Food People, we’re passionate about providing millions of Australians access to the fresh food they love most. What many people don’t realise is how much of our food supply relies directly on pollinating bees.
“Our goal here is to start a conversation in Australian homes about what a supermarket without bees would look like and how their impact goes far beyond just fruit and vegetables. However, if we take small actions to support bees and pollination today, we can create a better tomorrow and prevent this from becoming a reality.”
Trevor Weatherhead, Chair of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, said: “It is vital for both honey production and pollination of our Australian agriculture and food crops that bee health is maintained. With the ongoing drought and the impact of the bush fires it is now more critical than ever for beekeepers to have access to national parks and forests to help provide adequate floral resources."
“We can all play a part in bee health by considering the trees and plants in our own backyards that provide this necessary nectar and pollen for ‘Healthy bees – Healthy people’.”
Leisa Sams, General Manager of Hum Honey, said: “As a beekeeper, the most common question I’m asked is “what can people do to help bees?” Simple answer is to plant bee friendly plants in your garden so honeybees have year round access to pollen and nectar producing forage.
“That’s why it’s great to see the Woolworths’ Discovery Garden Program encouraging a practical way for people to experience at home the critical role honeybees play in pollination and our food security, alongside the joy of growing plants which just might make a beekeeper’s and a bee’s day!”
Additional details on how Woolworths is supporting bees:
List of products removed from shelves: