Shelves sit empty where bags of coffee beans, canola oil and other staples should be found within the makeshift grocery store in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood.
It’s not a supplier issue or a stock issue (not yet anyway), but a marketing stunt from General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios cereal brand, to illustrate how important bees are to food crops.
Now in its second year, the cereal maker’s “Bring Back the Bees” campaign puts a spotlight on Canada’s declining bee population. According to the food maker, without healthy bee colonies, “one out of every three bites of food is in danger of disappearing.” Not only that, the price of fruits and vegetables could increase dramatically.
"The fruits and vegetables we all depend upon for good nutrition are in jeopardy if we don't maintain healthy, stable bee populations," said Marla Spivak, professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota, who was on hand for a media preview Thursday afternoon.
In its inaugural year, the campaign asked Canadians to plant 35 million wildflowers. By the end of the campaign the goal was exceeded, with more than 100 million seeds planted. Building on last year’s success, General Mills is hoping to have 100 million wildflower seeds planted once again.
"Planting wildflowers is a simple, but tremendously important way in which Canadians can help preserve and grow the natural habitat bees need for survival," said Spivak, in a release.
The pop-up “grocery store of the future”—open to the public from March 10 to 12 —is part of a larger effort that revisits elements from last year's campaign, including a television commercial and the removal of the Honey Nut Cheerios mascot from cereal boxes.
This year, however, retailers are also showing their support for the campaign. Walmart, for instance, is giving away free packets of wildflower seeds with online purchases of Honey Nut Cheerios.