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AUSTIN, Texas -- Taking its commitment to ethical business practices a major step further, super-natural chain Whole Foods Market here is joining forces with third party certifiers to offer the Whole Trade Guarantee, based on a set of strict criteria for products from developing countries.
The retailer unveiled the initiative yesterday at the opening of its newest store in Manhattan, located at Bowery and Houston Streets.
"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 to help make more of an impact," said Whole Foods' co-founder and c.e.o. 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 the developing world communities where we do business."
Whole Foods said the program's new buying criteria will 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.
Whole Foods' buyers are working with two 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 groundbreaking industry initiative, assuring conscious consumers that their purchase benefits farming communities and protects the environment." said Paul Rice, c.e.o. and president of TransFair USA, Fair Trade product certifiers, in a statement.
Whole Foods' certified products will be identified with a Whole Trade logo. The first Whole Trade items to make it to 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' Allegro Coffees -- Organic French Roast, Organic Guatemalan, and Organic El Salvador -- will carry the Whole Trade Guarantee.
The company's goal is to have more than 50 percent of imported products from the developing world fall under the Whole Trade Guarantee program within 10 years. Over the long term, it hopes to hold all developing world products it sources to the Whole Trade standard.