Whole Foods Market plans to launch a comprehensive rating system for produce and flowers sold in its stores to help shoppers make more informed purchases. The company will release the rating system in the fall of 2014.
“We are driven by our core values and are always looking at ways to enrich our customers’ experience, improve our communities and support our supplier partners,” said Edmund LaMacchia, global VP of perishables for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “The new produce ratings will provide deeper transparency to our shoppers, helping them make conscious choices while also celebrating the great work and responsible practices of growers beyond their organic and local efforts.”
In September 2014, Whole Foods will present customers with a three-tier rating system and begin displaying ratings of “good,” “better” and “best” throughout produce and floral departments.
With the help of sustainable agriculture experts and with considerable input from suppliers, Whole Foods developed a science-based index to measure performance on important sustainable farming topics, including:
- Pest management, including prohibited and restricted pesticides
- Farmworker welfare
- Pollinator protection
- Water conservation and protection
- Soil health
- Waste, recycling and packaging
The program will recognize organic growers for the investment and achievement represented by organic certification while highlighting additional responsible practices, including farmworker welfare and resource conservation. The ratings will also reward suppliers for certification by a number of leading social and environmental standards including Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest and Demeter Biodynamic certification.
With these enhanced standards, Whole Foods is committed to ensuring its suppliers reduce pesticide use and its risks to consumers, farmworkers, wildlife and the environment. The ratings provide an industry-leading approach that eliminates or restricts the most toxic pesticides from the nation’s food supply and provide incentive for growers to measure and reduce other pesticide use.
The ratings also will recognize and celebrate growers whose practices surpass Whole Foods’ base standards for produce and flowers, which address GMO transparency, food safety and traceability.