Going All In for the Bees in France

by Ashley Halladay
Jun 23, 2017 8:15 AM ET

You’re hearing more this week about the importance of bees and their impact on our global food supply because it’s National Pollinator Week.

I was in France over the last few days for two events to learn more and see what’s being done to protect pollinators.

While we’ve had a long-standing connection to the Xerces Society in the U.S., the General Mills partnership with the French Observatory of Apidology (OFA) in Southern France has taken flight over the last couple years, with more than $200,000 in grants to the organization to help it make an impact across Europe.

Mary Jane Melendez, executive director of the General Mills Foundation, talks about our commitment to pollinator protection, in this audio clip.

Located in the Var region in the southeast of France, OFA‘s mission is to assist in restocking bees in France and Europe through applied research, training beekeepers and creating specialized apiculture farms.

Our Yoplait yogurt brand joined this commitment in 2015, with Petite Fleur Folies, an ephemeral flower garden created by artist Gad Weil and installed at the foot of the Eiffel Tower to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yoplait.

On Monday, supporters of OFA – including Prince Albert II of Monaco – gathered to discuss “When the planet goes wrong, what is the role of the citizen?”

During his speech at the event, Olivier Faujour, global CEO of Häagen-Dazs and Yoplait, said, “What would be more natural for the ‘Little Flower’ [Yoplait] than to commit to sowing seeds to hatch other small flowers? On June 20th, we will all have the opportunity to reconnect with this small ancestral gesture, modest but which can do much. We will all be sowers, planters and gardeners again.”

So on Tuesday, OFA employees and partners across Europe celebrated the first “Flowers for Bees” by planting wildflower seeds to create pollinator habitat across the region.

Around 2,000 General Mills France employees – including those from Yoplait – joined the effort, planting wildflowers near our six French factories and offices, or at their homes.

“We wanted to engage employees with OFA on the topic of bees because it’s not just a matter of money, it’s a matter of doing the right thing,” says Florian Trohay, corporate social responsibility manager for General Mills Europe and Australia.

Florian talks about Flowers for Bees, and educating our employees about pollinators, in this audio clip.

As awareness of the decline of crucial pollinators has increased, so has General Mills’ commitment to helping them. We’re currently the largest corporate supporter of pollinator health and habitat around the world.

“It’s incredible to see our commitment to people and planet through our work in sustainable agriculture. We’re taking care of mother nature because we’re a company that relies on her health and pollinators play a major role here,” says Mary Jane, who also was in France for the events this week. “Over the next few years, General Mills will help to bring more than 300,000 acres of pollinator habitat to critical farmlands to give homes to bees, butterflies and other pollinators that will ensure our food supply is strong and sustainable for generations to come.”

Learn more about our work to protect pollinators, in our 2017 Global Responsibility Report, on GeneralMills.com.