AUSTIN, TX – Nov. 19, 2008 –Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket, now offers more than 1,000 Whole Trade Guarantee products, just two years after the socially responsible buying program was launched to help low-income producers gain entry into and stability within the global marketplace. The program supports equitable systems of trade that are an investment in both farms and communities in developing countries where the Company sources certain products.

To be considered under the Whole Trade Guarantee, products must meet Whole Foods Market’s high quality standards, and producers must ensure fair wages and safe conditions for workers while caring for the environment during production. By paying honest, respectable prices for these products, Whole Foods Market is enhancing the everyday lives of impoverished people around the world.

“From the West Bank to the Sub-Sahara to the tropics of Central and South America, the Whole Trade Guarantee Program encompasses over 25 countries across the globe and helps boost their economies,” said Perry Abbenante, global grocery director for Whole Foods Market. “We are excited to hit this milestone and offer shoppers such a variety of socially responsible products –ranging from bananas and chocolate to cleaning products and body care items—that help chip away at poverty purchase by purchase.”

Whole Foods Market also announced an additional third-party partnership with Switzerland-based non-profit certification organization Institute for Marketecology (IMO), which recognizes and certifies socially responsible products. IMO joins highly respected third-party certifiers TransFair USA and the Rainforest Alliance as the supermarket’s Whole Trade Guarantee program certifiers.

“We are optimistic that this partnership will help us to continue to ensure more sustainable and fair conditions for farmers and workers worldwide. It is of major importance for these producers, who put all their efforts in truly responsible and sustainable production, to reach consumers in the U.S. who are genuinely concerned about the environment and quality products,” said Dr. Rainer Bächi, CEO of IMO.

“Whole Foods Market is pleased to have IMO join our group of third-party certifiers for the Whole Trade Guarantee program. Their many years of certification and auditing experience throughout the world, and their keen understanding of the tenets of our program, make this an excellent partnership,” said Jim Speirs, global vice-president of purchasing for Whole Foods Market.

Additionally, Whole Foods Market donates 1 percent of all Whole Trade Guarantee product sales to the Whole Planet Foundation, which funds micro-credit loans around the world with the goal of helping end world poverty. The mission of this foundation is to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing world communities that supply Whole Foods Market with products.

“Whole Foods Market’s Whole Trade Guarantee program helps bring power to villages without electricity, eradicate water-born illnesses through funding and drilling of wells, build and improve schools and create community clinics to combat illness and disease,” added Abbenante. “At a time when consumers more than ever are watching where their dollars go, it makes sense to select products from producers who really help make a difference for the Earth and its tenants.”

 

Whole Foods Market regularly features one of these producers on its “Whole Story” blog at http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/category/whole-trade/ and routinely highlights the products at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroomroducts/whole-trade-products.php. This month’s web features include:

“WHOLE STORY” BLOG FEATURE

 

Theo Chocolate

– Only organic, Fair Trade “bean-to-bar manufacturer” in the United States.

  • Country of Origin: Costa Rica
  • Certification: TransFair USA
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market trade support allows Cabecar and Bribri, indigenous communities in remote Talamanca, Costa Rica to intercrop organic cacao with food, and fuel crops in a way that preserves water and soil quality along with fragile tropical ecosystems; a method that helps to ensure the profitability of these crops for years to come.

 

WHOLE TRADE GUARANTEE PRODUCT FEATURES

 

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap

– Luscious, all-organic cleanser helps “wash with a clean conscience.”

  • Countries of Origin: Various – organic olive oil from the West Bank, coconut oil from Sri Lanka, palm oil from Ghana and sugar from Paraguay.
  • Certification: IMO
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market financially supports Dr. Bronner’s “constructive capitalism” philosophy and its donation of profits to “Human Projects” all over the planet — from fresh water wells in Ghana to orphanages in Haiti and China, and from helping organic farm projects to donating more than 1,200 acres of land to the San Diego County Boys and Girls Club.

 

Whole Trade Gerbera Daisies

– Vibrant and cheerful.

  • Country of Origin: Colombia
  • Certification: Rainforest Alliance
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market pays an additional percentage on each case of Whole Trade flowers purchased that goes directly to a local foundation that provides health care, education and meals to the children of farm workers who cannot afford to give their children this opportunity.

 

Whole Trade Roses

– Classic, colorful and romantic.

  • Country of Origin: Ecuador
  • Certification: TransFair USA
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market pays an additional percentage on each case of Whole Trade flowers purchased that goes directly to community development funds for workers. Worker groups from each farm collectively decide how to use the money for development projects, which have included education, training, scholarships, health care and housing.

 

Allegro Organic French Roast

– A deep and satisfying blend from conscientious producers who share

 

the Allegro values to the environment and worker well-being.

  • Country of Origin: Peru and Nicaragua
  • Certification: TransFair USA
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market supports the production of high quality coffees around the world and a model of commerce based on direct relationships with producers. These relationships ensure that mutually negotiated coffee contracts cover the cost of production on farms and provide an equitable profit margin for all. Whole Foods Market insists on transparency throughout the coffee chain and partners with suppliers who share its values for equitable and traceable sourcing, stewardship of the environment and support of worker well-being. In addition Whole Foods Market supports a quarterly Allegro Special Reserve program that provides $10,000 to community based projects where are products are grown.

 

EcoPath Cleaning Products

– The only organic and biodynamic cleaner on the market.

  • Country of Origin: Brazil
  • Certification: Rainforest Alliance
  • Whole Trade Advantage: Whole Foods Market’s purchases help to provide jobs in local communities, as all of EcoPath’s products are filled and labeled by hand. Equitable payments ensure that all workers receive above-standard salaries and are educated about recycling, organic agriculture and environmental protection.

“We are constantly pushing to hold more of our developing world products to the Whole Trade standard,” added Abbenante. “With this effort, we can provide a healthy market for an increasing number of producers who can meet our simple criteria of quality and compassion for people and the planet, and in effect, create fairness, goodwill, better wages and an abundance of high quality products.”

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About the Institute for Marketecology

 

The Institute for Marketecology (IMO) is one of the first and most renowned international agencies for inspection, certification and quality assurance of eco-friendly products with offices in more than 80 countries. For more than 20 years, IMO has been active in the field of organic certification, but it is also an expert in the sectors of natural textiles, sustainable forestry and social accountability monitoring.

About TransFair USA

 

The Fair Trade Certified™ label is backed by TransFair USA (http://www.transfairusa.org/). Fair Trade certification ensures that products were produced in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. Fair Trade is the only product certification that guarantees farmers were paid a fair price for their crops, and a social premium for long-term community development, managed by self-governing farmers and workers.

About Rainforest Alliance

 

Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org) certification focuses on improving the way farms are managed, ensuring long-term sustainability through tangible requirements that include dignified working conditions, health care, decent wages, wildlife protection, and water and soil conservation. By working with farms and companies of all sizes, the Rainforest Alliance aims to mainstream sustainability and transform the way global business is done.