Whole Foods debuts good, better, best rating system for produce
Whole Foods wants to tell you what you should consume. The natural and organic grocery chain introduced a new rating system on Wednesday known as "Responsibly Grown," which labels the produce and flowers it sells as good, better or best based on its assessment of the farming practices of the companies that supply its stores.
The goal of the Whole Foods program is to qualify the products it sells with reference to their impact on the environment and human health. The company is initially rating products from key suppliers that make up more than 50 percent of the produce it sells with plans to reach 100 percent over time.
"After three years of research and planning, Responsible Grown is the result of our collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts to continue our strong commitment to organic, while embracing additional important topics and growing practices in agriculture today," said Matt Rogers, global produce coordinator at Whole Foods, in a statement. "We are excited to broaden the conversation to recognize additional growing practices and drive more transparency in the industry."
Vendors can earn a good rating by passing 16 steps established by the chain. Suppliers from outside the U.S. must adhere to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for pesticide use. The use of irradiation is not allowed and suppliers must agree to be transparent on GMOs.
Earning a better or best label includes higher scores in categories such as:
- Pest management (using good bugs to eat bad ones)
- Farmworker welfare (providing workers with equipment to protect their health and safety)
- Water conservation
- Soil health
- Waste reduction
- Renewable energy
Altruistic tendencies aside, the goal of Responsibly Grown is to provide Whole Foods with a point of difference with other grocery stores looking to grab share in the organic foods market. The company has been pushing back against competitors with more aggressive pricing, a national marketing campaign, home delivery in concert with Instacart, as well as the continuing rollout of a loyalty program.
- Whole Foods Market takes stand on key agricultural issues with Responsibly Grown produce rating – Whole Foods Market
- Why Whole Foods wants to change the way people buy fruits and vegetables – The Washington Post
- Whole Foods to roll out rankings for produce – The Associated Press/The Tennessean
- Will a rewards program help or hurt Whole Foods – RetailWire
- Whole Foods makes aggressive move into e-grocery biz – RetailWire
- Whole Foods tackles ‘negative narrative’ with national campaign – RetailWire
What do you think Whole Foods will accomplish with its Responsibly Grown rating system for produce and flowers? Is it realistic to try to encapsulate all sustainability concerns in a useable ratings system?