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Whole Foods Market has formed an additional third-party partnership to certify its line of products under the "Whole Trade Guarantee" program, with Switzerland-based nonprofit organization Institute for Marketecology (IMO), which recognizes and certifies socially responsible products.
The grocer already uses TransFair USA and the Rainforest Alliance as certifiers for the program.
Whole Foods currently offers over 1,000 Whole Trade Guarantee products including bananas, flowers, chocolate, coffee, cleaning supplies, and body care items. It rolled out the buying program two years ago to help low-income producers in developing nations gain a foothold the global marketplace.
To be eligible for the program, products must meet Whole Foods' quality standards, and producers must ensure fair wages and safe conditions for workers while caring for the environment during production.
"From the West Bank to the Sub-Sahara to the tropics of Central and South America, the Whole Trade Guarantee Program encompasses over 25 countries across the globe and helps boost their economies," noted Whole Foods global grocery director Perry Abbenante.
Additionally, Whole Foods donates 1 percent of all Whole Trade Guarantee product sales to the Whole Planet Foundation, which funds microcredit loans around the globe to help end world poverty. The foundation's goal is to create form partnerships with the poor in the developing parts of the world that supply Whole Foods with products.
"Whole Foods Market's Whole Trade Guarantee program helps bring power to villages without electricity, eradicate water-born illnesses through funding and drilling of wells, build and improve schools, and create community clinics to combat illness and disease," said Abbenante.
Each month Whole Foods profiles Whole Trade Guarantee producers on its "Whole Story" blog at http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/category/whole-trade/, and it regularly spotlights items at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/whole-trade-products.php. Among this month's Web features are Theo chocolate, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, Whole Trade Gerbera daisies, Whole Trade roses, Allegro French roast coffee, and EcoPath cleaning products.
"We are constantly pushing to hold more of our developing-world products to the Whole Trade standard," remarked Abbenante.
Whole Foods Market operates 275 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom under the Whole Foods Market, Fresh & Wild, Harry's Farmers Market, Wild Oats, and Capers Community Market banners.