AUSTIN, Texas (January 26, 2005) Whole Foods Market the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket founded in 1980, announced today it will donate more than $550,000 as seed money toward the creation of the new Animal Compassion Foundation. The company kicked off the foundation on Tuesday by holding its first global “five percent day,” meaning five percent of all customer purchases at the 166 locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom will be allocated to create the foundation.

The Animal Compassion Foundation will be based in Austin, Texas and will operate as an independent, non-profit organization with its own board of directors. The mission of the foundation is to 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.

“At this time, no one place exists for ranchers and meat producers who are interested in animal compassion to share information. We will create a network for the global exchange of humane animal husbandry techniques. Thanks to the customers of Whole Foods Market, we will be able to make a real change in the way animals are raised and brought to market,” said Anne Malleau, executive director of the Animal Compassion Foundation. “The creation of the Animal Compassion Foundation will encourage change among producers interested in animal compassion now, and it will ideally motivate the industry as a whole to adopt more humane practices in the future.”

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.

“Launching the Animal Compassion Foundation marks a major endeavor in Whole Foods Market's twenty-five years as an innovator,” said Margaret Wittenberg, chair of the Animal Compassion Foundation and vice president of governmental and public affairs for Whole Foods Market. “Just as Whole Foods Market played an important role in the creation of organic standards, we will work with meat producers to raise the bar in treating farm animals with more compassion. We'll dedicate our efforts to bringing the importance of animals' welfare to the same level of expectation the industry has for food safety, quality and taste.”

To support Whole Foods Market's efforts to launch the Animal Compassion Foundation and make a difference in farm animal welfare, several animal welfare, animal protection, and animal rights organizations signed a statement of support, including: Animal Rights International, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Association of Vets for Animal Rights, Bay Area Vegetarians, Christian Vegetarian Association, Compassion Over Killing, Doris Day Animal League, East Bay Animal Advocates, Farm Sanctuary, Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mercy for Animals, Northwest in Defense of Animals, Vegan Outreach, and Viva!USA.

For more information go to the Animal Compassion Foundation website.