Another Reason to Shop at Whole Foods Market: New Produce Rating System Goes Beyond 'Organic'

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Whole Foods Market is planning to step up its quality assurance with an innovative produce rating system that’s slated to go into effect in all of its stores beginning on October 15th.

The program was announced by the leading organic and natural retail chain just over a year ago and will include a three-tier rating system for fruits and vegetables sold at Whole Foods Market. The produce will be ranked as either “good,” “better,” and “best” options, earning those ratings on how well the items meet criteria for sustainability, pest management and pollinator protection, worker wages, water conservation and protection, soil health, ecosystems, biodiversity, waste, recycling and packaging, energy and climate.

“Organic is not enough,” said Whole Foods Market founder and co-CEO John Mackey during the GE Capital Corporate Finance Food & Beverage Summit. “Consumers want total information, total transparency. Some people want it all.”

According to Food Business News, 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 rating program will also recognize suppliers who obtain certification for products that meet Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest, and Demeter Biodynamic certification requirements.

“People have a hunger for more transparency,” Mr. Mackey said. “We have the technology to make that transparency come alive. Every product we sell has a story attached to it. People want it and we try to give it to them.”

Whole Foods Market is also in the midst of rolling out a program by 2018 that will require labeling on any products sold in its stores that contain genetically modified ingredients. The program will include labeling on every item—from supplements and household products to food.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Elvert Barnes

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