Whole Foods Highlights Responsibly Sourced Products for Shoppers

3rd-party certification seal helps easily identify items that support workers, communities, environment
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Whole Foods Sourced for Good

Whole Foods Market is making it easier for shoppers to determine which products are responsibly sourced by placing a Sourced for Good seal on products that support workers, communities and the environment. This exclusive third-party certification program supports sourcing that provides tangible improvements in farm workers’ lives, strengthens worker communities where products are sourced and promotes environmental stewardship where crops are grown.

A recent online study conducted March 9-11 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Whole Foods among more than 3,000 U.S. adults found that 75% of Americans said when grocery shopping, it’s important to them that products are responsibly sourced, while 65% of U.S. shoppers are confused about how to determine whether a product is responsibly sourced.

The Sourced for Good seal now makes it easier to distinguish these products. At launch, the seal can be found on more than 100 products around Whole Foods stores. In addition to produce items from asparagus to zucchini, it includes domestically sourced items like tulips from Bloomia, in Virginia, and Sun Valley Floral Farms, in California.

Following the debut of Netflix’s damaging Seaspiracy” documentary, Sourced for Good also brings a first-time focus to seafood, including Del Pacifico wild-caught shrimp from Mexico.

“At Whole Foods Market, our Sourced for Good products not only are good, they do good,” said Karen Christensen, the grocer's SVP of merchandising for perishables. “Our commitment to equitable trade has funded numerous community projects — from dental clinics to housing facilities to student scholarships to bird sanctuaries. By purchasing select products, customers help us in our goal to make a difference, and now with Sourced for Good, we’re offering shoppers an easier way to find these special products in our stores.”

The Sourced for Good program includes products certified by internationally recognized third parties such as Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade America, Fair Food Program and Equitable Food Initiative.

Whole Foods began working with trusted third-party certifiers in 2007 under its Whole Trade Guarantee to bring about measurable, positive impact and generate millions of dollars annually to support farmworkers, their communities and environmental stewardship in the production of agricultural products. The expanded Sourced for Good program will replace the Whole Trade Guarantee.

The grocer is a known leader in the retail world for its dedication to supporting workers, communities and the environment. Last year, its CEO, John Mackey, even co-wrote a book entitled "Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business."  

When leaders become more conscious, the organizations they lead become more conscious, creating an ever-widening circle of purpose-driven cultures and communities," said Mackey at the time the book came out.

Using various labeling techniques like Whole Foods' seal is a tool that retailers have been using for years to help shoppers easily make informed purchasing decisions based on matters important to them. Going as far back as 2012, Walmart unveiled the Great For You icon on food items to provide better transparency to help shoppers identify healthier food that was backed by rigorous nutrition criteria.

Similarly, in 2014, Target introduced Made to Matter — Handpicked by Target, a collection that brought together 16 leading natural, organic and sustainable brands to introduce new products and make them more accessible. Spanning six product categories, Made to Matter products could be found throughout the store, both in the usual aisles and as part of specialized collection displays. 

Additionally, Raley’s launched its Shelf Guide in 2017 to help shoppers more easily find foods meeting their personal wellness needs. The tool differed from other shelf tag programs by taking a closer look at packaged ingredients, food processing and nutrition. Customers could quickly interpret whether a product met their needs by checking for simple, colorful icons. 

Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and is No. 24 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on PG’s list. Meanwhile, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 7 and West Sacramento, California-based Raley’s is No. 59 in the ranking.

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