FTC probes grocery and meat supply chain and spiking prices

The two largest U.S. supermarket chains, the leading grocery wholesaler and the No. 1 chicken processor are among nine companies ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to turn over detailed information for its study of "empty shelves and sky-high prices." The commission said it would investigate the causes of supply chain disruptions and the hardships imposed on consumers. No paywall

Grocery stores step up during Hurricane Harvey

The biggest grocery store chains have been quick to reopen in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a sign of just how vital the retailers are to disaster food relief. “On Tuesday, at the height of the flooding, Walmart had closed 134 Houston-area stores. By Thursday, only 21 stores remained closed. H-E-B (a Texas-based grocery chain) also had reopened almost 90 percent of its stores by then. Of the 20 stores owned by Albertson's, 16 are now open,” says NPR.

Home garden plants have fewer neonics

The level of neonicotinoid pesticides found on plants sold by large retailers to gardeners dropped to 23 percent this spring, according to a survey that looked at garden plants in 14 U.S. cities. In 2013 and 2014, neonicotinoid residue was found on more than half of the samples taken. Some experts blame the class of pesticides for Colony Collapse Disorder and other detrimental effects on pollinators.

Wal-Mart to sell ‘ugly’ apples to cut food waste

America’s biggest grocer is joining the “ugly” fruit and veg trend with sales of imperfect apples in 300 Florida stores, says NPR. Wal-Mart will sell the apples, which may be misshapen or have dents and scars under the brand name “I’m Perfect.”

America’s biggest produce leaders vow to help farmworkers

The nation’s largest produce industry groups have pledged to work together to improve farm labor conditions, in what could be the most significant step in the movement yet, says the Los Angeles Times. The Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, which together represent thousands of retailers, growers and distributors, say they are considering an audit-based approach to improving working conditions, similar to that used by the apparel and electronics industries.

Recruiting growers to go organic as sales surge

Grocers, restaurants and other companies that use organic foods "have turned to creative strategies for wooing prospective farmers and ranchers," says the Des Moines Register.

Companies join White House on climate pledge

Thirteen of the largest U.S. companies "are joining President Obama" to push "a slew of policies meant to curb the effects of climate change," said The Hill newspaper.

Work conditions, pay improve in Florida tomato fields

Three years after winning a pay increase of 1 cent per lb, tomato workers in Florida are in dramatically improved conditions, says the New York Times in a story the describes better accounting of pay and better treatment in the fields.

How much of grocer revenue comes from food stamps?

The government could soon be required to make public how much a retailer or a specific store records in food stamp sales, says a story in Mother Jones and produced in partnership with the Food and Environment Reporting Network; a longer version appears at thefern.org.