AUSTIN, Texas — To point customers towards the most sustainable produce and floral items, Whole Foods Market has established a rating system that it will begin using in stores in fall 2014. The retailer informed suppliers about the system on Thursday.
Similar to Whole Foods’ ratings for meat, the three-tiered system will label produce and floral as “good,” “better” or “best” based on the following factors:
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- Pest management, including prohibited and restricted pesticides
- Farmworker welfare
- Pollinator protection
- Water conservation and protection
- Soil health
- Waste, recycling and packaging
“We are driven by our core values and are always looking at ways to enrich our customers’ experience, improve our communities and support our supplier partners,” Edmund LaMacchia, global vice president of perishables, said in a press release. “The new produce ratings will provide deeper transparency to our shoppers, helping them make conscious choices while also celebrating the great work and responsible practices of growers beyond their organic and local efforts.”
Whole Foods developed the rating system with sustainable agriculture experts as well as suppliers.
While certified organic farms will rate highly, so will those that treat workers well and promote resource conservation. The system also recognizes farms that have achieved third-party certifications like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest and Demeter Biodynamic.
Read more: Filling the Sustainable Shopping Cart
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