Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet

Monday 24 May 2010, by Gero Kiepe, Linnea Sundstrom, Magnus Vage Knutsen, May Elizondo

3 inspired

a. The main facts of the activity of the company:

Whole Foods Market is the world?s largest retailer of natural and organic foods. As of January 2009, the organization operates in 279 locations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The product range includes produce, meats, baked goods, cheese, wine, seafood, floral, pet products and household products.
The company was originally founded in Austin in 1980 and has now expanded across the United States as well as into Canada and the United Kingdom. John Mackey was the original founder of Whole Foods Market, and when the store originally began it was called ?safewayer? to show customers that it was a safer produce store than the original Safeway. Mackey later on partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles and the first original Whole Foods Market opened.
Whole Foods bases their standards on selling the highest quality of natural and organic products and the promotion of sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, the company is dedicated to its customers, environment, and their employees. Thus, Whole Food Markets considers itself as a mission-driven company that acts according to its core values, quality standard, and declaration of interdependence. The three pillars of its mission statements are ?Whole Foods?, ?Whole people? and a ?Whole World?. According to its Whole Foods philosophy the company is searching for the highest quality, least processed, and most nutritious, tasteful and organic foods. Hence they try to sell food in its purest state, unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, coloring and preservatives. They also do not sell milk and meat products from cloned animals and sell only USDA-certified organic foods and products. Additionally, the organization considers its people as their company and ensures that its employees share their view on healthy food and a healthy planet. They also support a decentralized, self-directed team culture and try to establish a respectful workplace. Furthermore, Whole Food Markets tries to take care of its surrounding world by supporting organic farming and sustainable agriculture, as well as through micro-lending operations and donations to local non-profit groups. They also feel an ecological responsibility and an aim to be environmentally friendly and donate at least 5% of all their profits to charitable causes.

b. The ethical challenges this company is addressing:

The production and sale of food can be unethical in numerous ways. Chemicals that harm the environment are often used in the production, the animals are often treated poorly, and the products are packed in excessive amounts of plastic. As well, there is the aspect of paying fair prices to suppliers in developing countries. By choosing to organize their business model in a different way, Whole Food Market has shown that all these factors can be integrated to make the business more ethical.
In terms of addressing environmental issues Whole Foods Market has taken many steps. In 2000 they started selling MSC ? certified fish. This is fish that is harvested in a way that is believed to be able to sustain the resources of the ocean for further generations. As well the company primarily uses green power, which means power from renewable resources such as wind power and solar power. As a further step to make the company ?greener? the company has stopped using plastic bags. Instead the customers can choose between bringing their own bags or buying a paper bag made of 100% recycled paper.
Animal cruelty is an issue that is time after time brought to public attention by animal rights organizations. Whole Foods Market has chosen to address this issue by stopping the selling of live lobsters and stopping the purchasing of meat from animals that have been treated in a way that does not meet their standards. To take one specific example; Whole Foods Market will not buy meat from ducks that have had their feathers pulled out when they were still alive and that have been denied medical treatment.
Fair Trade has been another issue addressed by Whole Foods Market. They are currently working together with several organizations such as TransFair USA and The Rainforest Alliance in order to get their imported products certified as fair trade products. This issue poses an important dilemma because it involves paying a higher price (than market price) to ensure that the suppliers get a higher price for their products. So by selling fair trade products and choosing to act ethically, they can still make profits because they can charge a higher price for the FT products.

c. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it:

Whole Foods purpose is to sell the highest quality of food at the lowest price. They feature foods that don?t contain artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats. They are also supporting local farmers by buying their food as often as possible, but only if they are grown organically and are dedicated to work in an environmental friendly way. They are putting strength into trying to be an ethical company and are also engaging their staff in how to act environmental friendly. They are working actively in many different aspects to increase welfare and improve the environment.
This company is ethical because they are supporting local farmers that want to grow organic unprocessed food. They are always looking at selling the best food available that does not contain anything that should not be there. An ethical company should care for all their stakeholders as well as the environment; Whole Foods Market is the perfect example of this. They have their own definition of quality standards that every store must follow and the list of unacceptable foods that cannot be sold in stores is listed on their website. Whole Food Market strives in giving their employees the best wages possible, opportunities to move up in the company if they so desire, and also free health and dental care.
We trust this company because they have taken action towards the work of saving the planet, for example, the company uses electricity from such sources as biomass and wind sources. They are also involved in different organizations for providing sustainable fisheries and the company donates at least 5% of its profits to charity and caring for their employees with the extra benefits and opportunities they provide them.

d. The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve:

Whole Foods Market has been the leader in organic and unprocessed food for the past few years, but this does not mean that they are not about to face future competition. As more stores enter the organic food market, competition will begin to rise and it may be difficult for Whole Foods Market to keep their premium prices and attractiveness. Companies such as Wal-Mart and Safeway are beginning to expand their organic food sections, and both companies are known for their attractive prices and keeping their competitive edge.
As long as customers keep a demand for natural and organic food, we believe that they will still succeed. Being that Whole Foods Market was one of the first in their kind, they have developed a level of customer relation that is unmatchable. Whole Foods Market can continue to improve its company and keep its business alive by maintaining an ethical image. People will be willing to support the store they love and trust it for acting ethically over other stores.



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2 Discussions / 2 Messages

  • Whole Foods Market 3 October 2012 at 20:01 , by glouie

    I really wish I could trust Whole Foods as I enjoy shopping there. However, when Whole Foods claims that its endorsement of required genetically-modified food labels are for "the customers right to know how their food is produced," it’s hard for me not to call b.s. because it is almost certain that organic food sellers such as itself would benefit greatly from this.

  • Whole Foods Market 4 October 2012 at 12:08 , by Fiona Yu

    Whole Foods has always been my favorite organic super market in the world because almost everything in that store is healthy and organic. When I first entered the Whole Foods store in San Jose, California, I was amazed at the store’s “green and organic” atmosphere. I am always a big fan of “organic” food because they are really healthy and better-tasting than non-organic food. Whole Foods emphasizes that every product they sell in the store is organic and healthy. The company follows the rule of being ethical not only to the environment but also to animals. It is unlikely to see a supermarket as outstanding in its devotion to help the local farmers and provide its customers with the best quality organic food.

    The reason that I am inspired by Whole Foods is because that the founder perseveres to turn his vision into reality. The founder of Whole Foods wants his customers to enjoy food that is safe and organic, and even goes so far to provide harmless products for household usage. At the same time, the founder makes it his mission to take a good care of his employees and the environment, a mission that is uncommon in today’s business world. Whole Foods not only make profits but also ethically fulfill the goals of its founder to provide customers with the company’s mission statement: “Whole Foods, Whole people and Whole World.”

Location: Austin (United States of America)

Sector: health food store

Official website: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Key figures:

Annual Revenue: 8.03 Billion Dollars
Annual Profit: 118 Million Dollars
Number of Employees: 52,500
Company Type: Public ? NASDAQ (WFMI)
Countries of Operation: United States, Canada, and United Kingdom
Number of Locations: 279

Nbr. visits: 402

Nbr. inspires: 3