AUSTIN, Texas (December 14, 2004) Whole Foods Market®, the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket founded in 1980, invites shoppers to visit its 166 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 25 as five percent of total company sales will be allocated to create the Animal Compassion Foundation. As an independent, non-profit organization with its own board of directors, the Foundation will provide education and research services to assist and inspire ranchers and meat producers around the world to achieve a higher standard of animal welfare excellence while still maintaining economic viability.
“By creating the Foundation, Whole Foods Market is pioneering an entirely new way for people to relate to farm animals – with the animals' welfare becoming the most important goal,” said John Mackey, chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. “There are many universities and organizations out there doing research making production systems more productive and profitable, but there is no one place where meat producers can go to learn about making their processes more compassionate. We are out to change that with this Foundation.”
The Animal Compassion Foundation will allow ranchers and producers the opportunity to visit and learn from others who are innovating animal husbandry techniques to create the ideal environments and conditions to support every animal's physical needs, natural behaviors and well-being. The Foundation's tasks will include:
- Searching the planet for innovative animal compassionate ranchers and farmers whose methods can be studied.
- Creating a worldwide network comprised of animal compassionate ranchers and farmers to share knowledge to learn and improve together.
- Collecting and compiling the global knowledge of animal compassionate methods into an online library to help other interested ranchers and farmers successfully convert to animal compassionate methods.
- Providing research money to animal scientists at universities around the world to conduct scientific studies of more compassionate animal raising techniques to address the hundreds of challenges currently faced by ranchers and farmers trying to raise animals more compassionately.
By holding its first global five percent day, Whole Foods Market envisions raising $500,000 as seed money to establish this library of ever expanding information to help educate and inspire farm animal producers.
“The mission of the Animal Compassion Foundation is to help develop techniques of animal husbandry that supersede even the best practices found today,” said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president of governmental and public affairs for Whole Foods Market and chair of the Animal Compassion Foundation. “Over time, we believe we can build an ever-increasing bank of knowledge which will enable compassionate methods to spread and ideally, producers will see the value in this endeavor and be inspired to follow this lead.”
The success of the Animal Compassion Foundation will be measured by feedback from livestock producers, the number of producers interested in compassionate production methods, and the success of those who raise their livestock humanely while remaining cost efficient and productive.
In December 2003, Whole Foods Market began a rigorous process of creating enhanced farm animal treatment standards above and beyond the strict animal welfare already required by the company. These enhanced standards are to be completed by 2008 for every species sold by the company and are being developed jointly by Whole Foods Market and animal welfare advocacy groups. Among these groups are: The Humane Society of the United States; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; Viva! USA; Animal Welfare Institute; Animal Rights International; animal welfare scientists including Dr. Ian Duncan of the University of Guelph and Dr. Renee Bergeron of Université Laval; and Steritech, an independent third-party animal welfare auditor.
“Whole Foods Market currently does more for animal welfare than any retailer in the industry and we currently require our producers to adhere to strict standards. However, our intentions are to step into a leadership role to raise these standards even higher and to do more to promote the well-being of farm animals,” added Wittenberg.
The launch of the Animal Compassion Foundation parallels the development of these upcoming enhanced species-specific standards, which will give shoppers peace of mind in knowing they can find the highest-quality meat products that adhere to Whole Foods Market's strict standards and values which include raising farm animals with compassion.
“Whole Foods Market helped spark the rising consumer interest and the explosive industry growth of natural and organic foods. As we celebrate our 25th year, the Animal Compassion Foundation will give us the opportunity to stay true to our company's core values which have led us to this endeavor while helping us continue to be responsible tenants of the planet,” Mackey said. “We hope that the new animal compassionate standards and the knowledge collected by the Animal Compassion Foundation will eventually become the global standards embraced and utilized by every animal welfare group, animal producer and food retailer.”