MINNEAPOLIS (PR Newswire) — General Mills announced Tuesday that by the end of 2020, oat farms that supply oats for Honey Nut Cheerios will host approximately 3,300 total acres of dedicated flower-rich pollinator habitat. It takes about 60,000 acres of oats to make Honey Nut Cheerios products each year. More than two thirds of the crops used to feed people, accounting for 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.1 Flower-rich habitat is critical in helping maintain the nutritional health of bees and the continued supply of crops that we depend on for food. Without bees and other pollinators, food as we know it would be forever changed.
Bees have experienced an unprecedented scale of habitat loss with more than 9 million acres of grass and prairie land converted to crop land since 2008.2 Although Honey Nut Cheerios famous spokesbee, Buzz Bee, and his honey bee friends may not be in danger of extinction like some other pollinators, in the interest of protecting our food supply, Honey Nut Cheerios is committed to helping all pollinators thrive through the planting of these habitats.
“Pollinator habitats are one of the most effective solutions in ensuring bees get the daily nutrition they need,” said Dr. Marla Spivak, a world-renowned bee scholar at the University of Minnesota who has been collaborating with General Mills on this initiative. “Every day, 4,000 species of North American bees are traveling from flower to flower, shopping for the variety of good nutrition they need in order to thrive. My hope is this partnership between farmers, the Xerces Society and General Mills will not only beautify the North American countryside with vibrant wildflowers, but also help the bees we all rely on so much get back on their own six feet!”
The brand’s commitment means that acreage totaling the equivalent of about 3,000 football fields will be planted in partnership with the Xerces Society, a leading pollinator and wildlife conservation organization. These fields will be full of blooming, nectar- and pollen-rich wildflowers that harness a variety of essential food sources and nutrients for bees and other pollinators. Previous pollinator habitat plantings on General Mills’ supplier farms have indicated that each pollinator habitat can potentially double the amount of bees living there.3
“A huge amount of research now demonstrates the value of habitat restoration on farms for pollinators. Features such as flowering hedgerows, mass wildflower plantings in field borders, and flowering cover crops, along with improved protection from pesticides, are consistently proving to be the most successful approaches to maintaining robust pollinator populations. We are excited to see how deeply General Mills understands these conservation systems, and to watch this beautiful new chapter of conservation farming unfold,” said Eric Lee-Mäder, pollinator program co-director for the Xerces Society.
With this Honey Nut Cheerios commitment, General Mills is now one of the largest corporate contributors to pollinator conservation. Large-scale habitat projects have already been planted or are currently underway on farms supplying ingredients to Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, LÄRABAR and Annie’s, with additional projects being planned.
“Bees need a variety of good nutrition in their diets, just like humans, and General Mills is about good nutrition,” said Jared Pippin, associate marketing manager for Cheerios. “We are in the business of making food and all of the experts agree we can’t grow the crops needed for the food we eat if we don’t give the bees that pollinate them the nutrition they need. As a General Mills brand, we saw an opportunity to do more and are proud to be a part of this leading-edge movement to create pollinator habitats.”
About 30 percent of all ingredients in General Mills’ products rely on pollination. Although that does not include the oats used in Honey Nut Cheerios, the brand is committed to planting these habitats in support of pollinator conservation. Over the past three years, Honey Nut Cheerios and General Mills has contributed more than a quarter million dollars to help research and restore pollinator-friendly habitats for bees and other pollinators.
For more information on this commitment from Honey Nut Cheerios and the work being done in partnership with the Xerces Society, visit www.cheerios.com/weneedthebees. Learn more about how to get involved by following and joining the conversation at #WeNeedTheBees and visiting http://www.xerces.org/bringbackthepollinators/ to discover how to plant your own native plants as a fun, simple way to help the bees. To learn more about the ongoing efforts by General Mills to improve pollinator habitats, visit “A Taste of General Mills.”
About General Mills
General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2015 worldwide sales of US $18.7 billion, including the company’s US $1.1 billion proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.
2 USDA Farm Service Agency
3 University of California, Davis