Green Grocers in China?

I read an intriguing post recently on the Global Times about a Greenpeace investigation into China’s foreign-owned supermarket chains. This Greenpeace “Supermarket List for China” ranked the 15 largest supermarkets based on categories such as pesticides and GM foods. The report had Wal-Mart, Tesco, and Ito-Yokado rank at the bottom of the list, while Carrefour, Hyper Market, and Auchan received more positive comments:

According to Greenpeace China, they assessed 15 major supermarkets in China from three aspects. First is product tracking and control systems, where consumers can trace the supply chain. Secondly, key policies and commitments on reducing pesticide residue and avoiding GMF, especially fresh fruits, vegetables and rice. Thirdly transparency: the more honest companies are, the more they are willing to be supervised by consumers and capable of meeting their commitments.

The excellent website China Corporate Social Responsibilty also discusses this:

Wang Weikang, the food and agriculture project director of Greenpeace, told local media that the supermarkets that rank at the bottom of the list did not take any action in supervising the quality of the food products they sell, nor did they make any promise to improve. According to Wang, Wal-Mart did not provide any information on the questionnaire regarding gradually banning the use of pesticide or committing to no genetically modified food, nor did it provide any of the necessary information on its Chinese website — even though it has already made a commitment to British consumers on not providing genetically modified food. In addition, there is no such information either on the Chinese language website of Ito-Yokado though the information is offered on the Japanese language website of the company.

So far, supermarkets ranked at the bottom of the list have responded saying that they have always abided by the local laws and regulations and have adopted product quality standards that are up to, or higher than, the local government requirements.

Here’s the original Greenpeace article; it’s a PDF file but only in Chinese. I think this type of analysis does have its own agenda but is still helpful, as it brings to the surface a lot of underlying issues regarding food safety in China.

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