AUSTIN, Texas (March 29, 2007) Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today that it has created the Whole Trade Guarantee, a buying program that brings together a set of strict criteria for products from developing countries to ensure:
- exceptional product quality,
- more money for producers,
- better wages and working conditions for workers,
- sound environmental production practices that promote biodiversity, and
- support of poverty eradication via donating one percent of product sales to the Whole Planet Foundation™
“With our shoppers' growing concern about ethical and responsible trade and with our Company's increasing scale and scope, the time is right for Whole Foods Market to help make more of an impact,” said Whole Foods Market's co-founder and CEO John Mackey. “We have a long track record concerning ethical business practices, equitable pay for Team Members and suppliers, safe working environments, and love and respect for all people and the Earth. We are extending that concern to the global community by bringing products from developing areas to the marketplace in a way that is a win for the producers and their families, for our shoppers, for the environment, and for poverty stricken communities where we do business.”
Whole Foods Market is passionate about great tasting food and ensures that foods in the Whole Trade Guarantee program are the highest quality products in their category. Each Whole Trade product must meet the same strict quality standards that guide the Company's buyers every day in decisions about which products to offer shoppers.
More Money To Producers
With the market's inevitable price and production fluctuations, paying producers a consistent price for their products covers their costs and more. Producers receive a premium price for their goods as an investment in their communities, allowing them to put money back into and continually improve their operation, put healthy food on their table, and cover their cost and production fluctuations. It makes sure that they can always afford to produce their product so that they do not have to abandon their work or jeopardize the wellbeing of their families to make ends meet.
Better Wages And Working Conditions
The Whole Trade program gives low-income producers a market to sell their products while ensuring better wages and working conditions for workers. This allows for producers to invest in their farms and communities and helps to continue to develop the skills of workers.
Sound Environmental Practices
Whole Foods Market seeks out and promotes products that are grown or produced using sound environmental practices such as integrated pest management systems and the practice of soil and water conservation techniques like reforestation and composting.
One Percent Against Poverty
For each Whole Trade Guarantee product sold, one percent of the retail sale will go to the Whole Planet Foundation whose mission is to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing world communities that supply our stores with product. The Whole Planet Foundation fights poverty by providing grants for micro loans for women entrepreneurs.
“Whole Trade Guarantee is a win-win situation for poverty relief because it ensures that producers receive a premium price and marketplace for their goods and, once the products are sold at Whole Foods Market stores, one percent of the retail price will go to the Whole Planet Foundation, which is creating real results in the fight against poverty by providing grants for micro loans for women entrepreneurs,” said Mackey.
To put this into perspective, selling approximately 1000 one-pound bags of Whole Trade coffee raises enough money to fund a micro loan in Central America. With a $100 loan made possible with the Whole Planet Foundation's assistance, for example, a woman in Costa Rica was recently able to buy additional chickens for her poultry business. She has increased her monthly income by 200 percent in less than six months and has been able to provide a stable home environment and education for her grandchildren.
Identifying Whole Trade Guarantee Products
Whole Foods Market's buyers are working with highly respected third party certifiers — the Rainforest Alliance® and TransFair USA — to ensure that the Whole Trade Guarantee criteria checklist is verifiable. In addition to acting as certifiers, these partners aid producers in getting their products to market, improving their operations, and verifying and tracking the program results.
“Whole Foods Market's Whole Trade Guarantee is a ground-breaking industry initiative, assuring conscious consumers that their purchase benefits farming communities and protects the environment.” said Paul Rice, CEO and President of TransFair USA, Fair Trade product certifiers. “We look forward to partnering with Whole Foods Market to expand the Whole Trade product category, and we will continue to empower millions of Fair Trade farmers and workers in 70 countries throughout the developing world by connecting them to this wonderful opportunity.”
“Whole Foods Market's Whole Trade Guarantee is a terrific example of socially responsible leadership that aims to promote environmental, social and economic sustainability in agricultural production,” said Tensie Whelan, executive director of the Rainforest Alliance. “We look forward to working together to change not only the way goods are produced but also the choices businesses make and the way consumers shop. Shoppers can be assured that their dollars are supporting farming that benefits workers and communities plus protects the environment when they seek out Whole Trade products.”
Shoppers looking to use their buying power to make a difference can look for the Whole Trade logo on shelves near some of their favorite products from developing countries. The first Whole Trade items to make it to Whole Foods Market's stores in the United States and Canada will include products primarily in the grocery and produce departments such as tea, cocoa, bananas, mangoes, rice, sugar, and vanilla. In addition, three of Whole Foods Market's Allegro Coffees — Organic French Roast, Organic Guatemalan, and Organic El Salvador — will carry the Whole Trade Guarantee.
The Company's goal is to have over 50 percent of its imported products from the developing world fall under the Whole Trade Guarantee program within ten years. Over the long-term, it hopes to hold all developing world products it sources to the Whole Trade standard.
The Whole Trade Guarantee project officially launches in Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. and Canada with the opening of the Company's 195th store in Manhattan at Bowery and Houston Streets on March 29, 2007.
The Fair Trade Certified™ label is backed by TransFair USA (www.transfairusa.org), the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products for the U.S. market. Fair Trade certification ensures 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 an additional social premium for long-term community development, managed by self-governing farmers and workers.
Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org) certification focuses on improving the way farms are managed, ensuring long-term sustainability through tangible requirements including dignified working conditions, healthcare, 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 to transform the way global business is done.