Jumbo 100% ecolabel, AH prohibits 28 pesticides

NFO: “Supermarket chains strengthen own image by trampling Dutch cultivators”

Today Greenpeace, SNM (Natuur & Milieu, a Dutch organisation committed to a healthy natural environment) and supermarket chains Jumbo and Albert Heijn announced they have reached an agreement on pushing back the use of pesticides for the production of potatoes, fruits and vegetables. By agreeing on long-term goals and on honest prices for their products, it should become more appealing for cultivators to grow sustainable produce.

Jumbo is striving for all fresh produce to be at least certified by Milieukeur (Ecolabel) by the end of 2019. The share of Jumbo’s organic products is going to be doubled, or even tripled. Albert Heijn has reached similar agreements with SNM. Albert Heijn is going to prohibit the use of 28 pesticides used for the cultivation of Dutch potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, crops also have to at least meet Milieukeur’s requirements, and the retailer increases the supply of organic products as well. Both supermarket chains also reached agreements on sustainable ornamental plant cultivation.

Responses from the sector are divided. “Bring it on, Jumbo. We already have five years of experience with this,” commented fruit cultivator Cornelis Uijttewaal. Fruit cultivator advisor Peter van Arkel was outraged: “This should be taken off the table! AH and Jumbo cannot and should not be allowed to decide what should and should not be allowed in the Netherlands. What are laws for?”

Michiel Gerritsen (NFO): “Misuse of power”
The NFO, the Dutch fruit growers organisation, is speaking of a misuse of power by two dominant retailers. “Making additional demands just for Dutch product, without firm guarantees on additional recompense and transparency, means they are strengthening their own image by trampling Dutch cultivators,” says Michiel Gerritsen.

The NFO and the LTO, the Dutch agricultural and horticultural organisation, have announced that Dutch products are already being produced cleanly by international standards, and that there is little to no residue on Dutch product. Moreover, they have indicated that if requirements are increased for fresh produce and ornamental plant cultivation, NFO and LTO assume cultivators will receive honest recompense for additional efforts and costs made by said cultivators, and that these requirements are applied integrally for all similar products on the shelves, so including import products. “Especially AH focuses completely on Dutch products, but the agreements Jumbo has reached are vague as well.”

Joris Baecke (LTO): Inequality Dutch and imported product
“The agreements between Greenpeace and SNM on the one hand and supermarket chains Jumbo and Albert Heijn on the other hand about the use of pesticides for the cultivation of potatoes, fruits and vegetables are only applied to Dutch products. The agreement does nothing for biodiversity abroad. Apparently foreign bees are not important,” says Joris Baecke, portfolio administrator Plant Health for LTO Netherlands, regarding the agreements made to halt the alleged decline in bees. Baecke is farmer in Nieuw-Namen, the Netherlands.

According to Baecke the agreements put Dutch cultivators at a disadvantage. “And that is harsh, especially because hardly any pesticides are found on Dutch potatoes, fruits and vegetables, if at all. We are even an international leader on that point. Dutch cultivators who meet these requirements will incur high costs. However, the agreement does not guarantee we will also receive higher prices. The agreements on that are soft as butter.”

LTO Netherlands was not involved in the negotiations between supermarket chains, Greenpeace and SNM, but, according to Baecke, always indicated that double standards should not be applied. “And that is what is going to happen now. Supermarket chains are going to look good by making the Netherlands more sustainable, but keep their hands clean of import from abroad. The consumers are being fooled because of this. We assume this inequality between Dutch and imported products will be rectified.”

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