Toronto, ON (August 10, 2011) — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) is providing Canadian shoppers with a new level of transparency about how farm animals are raised by now offering beef, pork and chicken certified under
the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system.
The rating system is the signature program of Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit organization that facilitates and encourages continuous improvement in animal agriculture. Independent, third-party certifiers audit farms and rate animal welfare practices and conditions using a tiered system that ranges from Step 1 (no crates, cages or crowding) to Step 5+ (animals spend their entire lives on one farm). The system provides a way to engage a broad spectrum of producers who are committed to higher welfare for farm animals, and gives shoppers a way to make informed choices at the meat counter.
“In my 20 years of working with ranchers and farmers in Ontario and across Canada, this is the largest commitment to improving farm animal welfare that I have seen. Producers need to meet approximately 100 requirements to get a Step 1 certification, so achieving the first level is a remarkable accomplishment,” says Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “Whole Foods Market is able to adopt the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system thanks to the true partnerships we have with our producers who put just as much emphasis on the lives and welfare of their farm animals as they do on ensuring high-quality products.”
More than 1,540 farms and ranches across the U.S. and Canada have received Step certification through independent, third-party certifiers. This includes the nearly 200 Canadian producers that provide the company’s Canadian stores with product. Colour-coded signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these Step ratings.
“I’m proud to be a part of such a forward-thinking program as the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system,” said Vincent Breton, president of Les Viandes du Breton. “Like many animals, pigs are happiest when they’re in their natural surroundings, doing the things they love to do, like roam free without being crowded. Having a Step 1 rating, my pigs do just that. They live in a comfortable environment, which can only lead to a higher-quality product.”
Step-rated options are now available at all Canadian Whole Foods Market stores. The company launched the program in the U.S. this past February and it has had a similar step-rated program in the U.K. since 2007. Additional species will receive rating as Global Animal Partnership standards are completed.
“I'm so honored that Global Animal Partnership is able to work with Whole Foods Market as our pilot partner. Their commitment to fully adopting our 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program will definitely have a significant and positive impact on animal agriculture – to the benefit of farmers and ranchers, consumers and the animals themselves,” comments Miyun Park, executive director for Global Animal Partnership. “We're already in discussions with other grocers and restaurateurs, who, like Whole Foods Market, are dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals.”