Iceland came ninth in the supermarket ranking and were placed in the overall category ‘lagging behind’.
In fact, they scored the worst of any supermarket which responded to PAN UK’s survey. While Iceland do acknowledge the benefits of non-chemical approaches to pest control, they are not doing enough to encourage their suppliers to reduce pesticide use or to phase out the most hazardous pesticides from their global supply chains. Like all other UK supermarkets, Iceland could be doing more to reduce pesticide-related harms.
Supporting suppliers to use non-chemical alternatives
Iceland told PAN UK that some of their suppliers “promote” non-chemical alternatives in some areas. However, unlike a number of other supermarkets, Iceland does not appear to be making widespread or systematic efforts to encourage their suppliers to reduce pesticide use. For example, Iceland don’t include in their company policy a stated objective around increasing uptake of non-chemical methods of pest control, or have any support measures in place, such as providing training to farmers on how to adopt non-chemical pest management techniques.
Monitoring and reducing pesticide residues in food
Iceland test fruit and vegetables, wheat products, rice, meat, dairy, fish and dried fruit for pesticide residues. Despite testing this relatively wide selection of products, when specific food items are shown to contain high residues Iceland has no measures in place to work with suppliers to tackle the problem. Unlike some other UK supermarkets, Iceland also don’t test their products for glyphosate residues, despite its overuse in global agriculture and major public concern regarding its impacts.
Phasing out the most hazardous pesticides
Iceland are not making proactive efforts to phase out the most hazardous pesticides from their global supply chains. They do not have a list of pesticides that they monitor, restrict or ban. Instead, the company relies solely on legal compliance and only takes action to remove a pesticide from its global supply chains if it has been banned by regulators.
Engaging with customers on reducing pesticide use
There are three key ways in which supermarkets can involve their customers in helping them to reduce pesticide use in their supply chains. In contrast to all other UK supermarkets, however, Iceland told PAN UK that they are currently failing to take any of them. They are as follows:
- Selling fruit and vegetables that aren’t perfect, thereby reducing the need for cosmetic pesticides.
- Making efforts to promote fruit and vegetables that are in season and therefore more likely to be grown closer to home. Keeping supply chains short tends to lessen the need to use fungicides which prevent fresh produce from rotting while they are being transported.
- In response to complaints from customers who find a bug in fresh produce, making sure to explain that this may be because their suppliers are using less pesticides.
Reducing harm caused to bees and pollinators
Iceland failed to describe any ways in which they are specifically working to support pollinators above minimum legal requirements. While other supermarkets carry out pollinator risk assessments, fund research or work with suppliers to adopt pollinator-friendly practices such as planting wildflowers, Iceland are not taking any of these measures.
Being transparent about pesticides
Iceland could be much more transparent regarding pesticides. Currently their customers have no way of finding out what pesticides are used in the company’s global supply chains or which pesticide residues appear in the food they sell. The company does not have any information on its website regarding its approach to pesticides or plans for reduction. It does not publish its pesticide policy or the results of its residue testing programme. PAN UK requested a copy of Iceland’s lists of restricted and prohibited pesticides but the company declined to provide them.
Boosting organic sales
Iceland do not sell organic produce and have no plans to do so. The media reported that Iceland went 100% organic on all frozen fruit and vegetables in 2001 at no extra cost to the consumer, but did a U-turn on this policy in 2002.
Selling pesticide products