Retailers are powerful market actors that intermediate between producers and the processing industry and consumers (Hirsch et al. 2020; Styles et al. 2012). Usually, environmental externalities such as those related to soil degradation are not reflected in their prices. When food producers want to sell products in stores, they have to sell them at first to retailers (Hansen and Skytte 2011). Direct marketing via internet shops is increasing, but the biggest reach is still via retailers. Therefore, if more people are to buy more environmentally-friendly products that include soil conservation as product characteristic, it is essential that retailers offer these products.
Environmental management differs among European countries and between retailer types (European Commission 2009). The focus can lay on direct environmental impacts (e.g. stores operations and logistics) or indirect environmental impacts (e.g. the products offered).
Possible governance instruments are minimum standards, financial incentives, retailer awards, voluntary agreements, labelling, business support, green procurement, public information and supporting innovation. Obligations and restrictions for the use of certain substances can be enacted. Also, collaborations with other stakeholders like NGOs, producers and manufacture are increasingly popular.