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Whole Foods Plans to Label It

Discussion in 'Area Restaurants, Dining and Food' started by KTdid, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Wait Till You See Whole Foods’ Newest Food Label
    The chain again sets the bar high for transparency, but will other retailers follow?

    October 16, 2014 By Steve Holt

    In March 2013, Whole Foods became a trailblazer in the food transparency movement, announcing that it would be giving suppliers five years to either source non-G.E. ingredients or clearly label any products containing GMOs. Other supermarket chains, either directly or through trade groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have staunchly opposed efforts to mandate product labeling of GMOs, pouring millions into campaigns to stop state-level labeling laws.

    (Photo: Whole Foods)

    As most supermarket chains and big food brands fight labels that would give shoppers more information about product ingredients, Whole Foods Market continues to lead the field in consumer transparency.

    Last year the retailer announced that by 2018, all products containing genetically engineered ingredients in nearly 400 of its locations in the United States and the United Kingdom
    would be labeled.

    On Wednesday, the company one-upped itself, announcing that it would also label the fresh produce and flowers it sells with ratings based on their impact on workers, soil, water, and human health.

    Through its Responsibly Grown program, the company, which raked in nearly $13 billion in sales in 2013, will apply labels of “good,” “better,” or “best” to a number of fresh products that meet basic criteria for air, soil, water, and human health.

    In addition, the program will prohibit several organophosphate pesticides that have been shown to be neurotoxins but are still widely used in agriculture.

    What’s more, to earn a “best” designation, produce must be grown in a way that protects pollinators.


    Bogus Buzzword: This Popular Food Label Is Essentially Meaningless

    “After three years of research and planning, Responsibly Grown is the result of our collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts to continue our strong commitment to organic, while embracing additional important topics and growing practices in agriculture today,” said Matt Rogers, global produce coordinator at Whole Foods Market, in a statement. “We are excited to broaden the conversation to recognize additional growing practices and drive more transparency in the industry.”

    The steps Whole Foods has taken in the last couple of years continue the positive momentum in the movement for more transparency for consumers and demonstrate the power that consumer demand can have on retailer practices, says Katherine Paul, associate director at the Organic Consumers Association, one of the leading advocacy groups pushing for labeling laws around the country.

    “It’s clear from the GMO labeling movement that that movement has created awareness that goes beyond the issue of GMOs to food in general,” she says, adding that the OCA will be analyzing the specifics of the rating program once more details are available. “Where does it come from? How are the workers treated? How are the animals treated? Are products being produced in a way that is respectful of the environment? More and more consumers are paying attention to those issues. Retailers like Whole Foods wouldn’t implement a program like this if they didn’t feel like it is important to consumers.”

    Retailers can have a huge impact in forcing manufacturers to adhere to certain standards, Paul adds, and customers of Whole Foods are clearly willing to pay a little more for products they know are healthy and sustainable.

    With Whole Foods leading on transparency issues, will other retailers follow suit? Probably not, Paul says, unless they are competing for the same shoppers, who tend to be more conscious of social and environmental issues affected by food production.

    “Any retailer who wants to capture the same consumer market that Whole Foods targets will be pressured to step up their game,” she says. “There will always be the retailers who focus on a different market segment. They’ll say, ‘We don’t care about those customers. We have a different demographic that we cater to.’ Those retailers will always most likely be out there.”

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