Whole Foods*

Summary of Whole Foods* grade

Pollinator Health Policy

Pollinator Health Policy

10 out of 45 points

Explanation of points

Whole Foods Market reported publicly that it has met and exceeded Friends of the Earth’s ask to increase certified organic food and beverages to more than 15 percent of overall offerings or sales by 2025. In its 2015 annual report, Whole Foods Market stated that 30% of sales – outside of prepared foods and bakery – were certified organic.

Whole Foods Market does not have a written, publicly available pollinator health policy for food and beverage supply chains that addresses the need to reduce use of pesticides of concern to pollinator and human health. A strong policy would include shifting to least-toxic farming approaches in order to avoid regrettable substitution of one toxic pesticide with another. The ecological farming methods that underpin organic farming, integrated pest management and regenerative agriculture reduce farmers’ overall need for pesticides.

Commitment to reduce pesticide use
0 out of 20 points
Scope of pesticide commitment
0 out of 10 points
Commitment to least-toxic approaches in non-organic supply chains
0 out of 5 points
Commitment to expand organic
10 out of 10 points
Implementation

Implementation

46 out of 90 points

Explanation of points

Whole Foods Market, via its partnership with the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), received credit for a pilot-scale commitment to track pesticide use in its supply chain and to support growers to shift to least-toxic approaches. EFI certification requires an implemented Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan that includes a stepped approach starting with biological controls followed by cultural, physical, and finally chemical responses. EFI growers also use the Pesticide Risk Tool (PRT) developed by the IPM Institute to track all pesticide applications. The Pesticide Risk Tool tracks total pounds of pesticides used and also helps growers identify high risk uses of pesticides to reduce.

Whole Foods Market certifies over 1,300 products under its Whole Trade Guarantee program, including chocolate, sugar, honey, floral, produce and rice. The company reports that 96% of floral and nearly 60% of produce is Whole Trade certified. Whole Trade partners with the following third-party certifiers: Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade International and Rainforest Alliance. Of these, the latter two require use of integrated pest management and have meaningful pesticide restrictions. Rainforest Alliance prohibits use of pollinator-toxic pesticides including fipronil and neonics (imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam) and includes requirements to mitigate the risk of 166 pesticides known to pose harm to workers, pollinators, wildlife and aquatic life, including glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. Fair Trade International restricts use of hazardous pesticides including neonics (clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid), glyphosate, and chlorpyrifos. Fair Trade USA has less stringent pesticide restrictions and does not require compliance with these restrictions or use of integrated pest management for the first six years that growers are certified, diluting the significance of the certification.

Whole Foods Market reported it offered more than 25,000 unique organic products and that approximately 30% of sales – outside of prepared foods and bakery – were certified organic in its 2015 annual report. There has been no publicly reported data on the percent of sales or products that are certified organic since then.

Whole Foods Market reports supporting U.S. organic growers in a number of ways. Whole Foods Market offers a Local Producer Loan Program for loans between $10,000 – $100,000 to support small-scale local and organic farmers. Whole Foods Market reports providing price floors for farmers via its Whole Trade program, which includes organic farmers, and supports farmer training and research on organic practices via support for The Organic Center, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, California Certified Organic Farmers Foundation and the Ecological Farming Association.

Whole Foods Market reports advocating for public policies that support the expansion of U.S. organic agriculture. The company reported to Friends of the Earth that, since 1990, it has advocated for strong organic standards through engagement with the USDA National Organic Program and the National Organic Standards Board, including providing written comment, oral testimony, and general background feedback to USDA on numerous occasions. Whole has also advocated for increased funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), increased funding for the National Organic Program, and stronger enforcement of organic standards via participation with the Organic Trade Association.

Whole Foods Market has not publicly reported on any measurable reductions of pesticide use in its supply chains.

Track pesticide use in supply chain
3 out of 15 points
Measurably reduce pesticide use
0 out of 20 points
Support farmers to implement least-toxic approaches in non-organic supply chains
3 out of 15 points
Measurably expand organic
20 out of 20 points
Support domestic organic growers
15 out of 15 points
Support public policies
5 out of 5 points
Transparency & Accountability

Transparency & Accountability

7 out of 21 points

Explanation of points

Whole Foods Market is a certified organic retailer and has a publicly available commitment to expand organic offerings on its website. Whole Foods Market has extensive content on its website focused on educating consumers about the value of organic food and farming to human health and the environment.

Whole Foods Market does not have publicly available commitments or policies related to reducing use of pesticides of concern to pollinators and human health in its supply chain. Whole Foods Market does not appear to include reduction of pesticides of concern to pollinators and human health or expansion of organic offerings in company Key Performance Indicators or other formal sustainability criteria. Whole Foods Market does not have educational content on the value to pollinator and human health of decreasing use of toxic pesticides.

Make policies and commitments publicly available
2 out of 6 points
Oversight
0 out of 5 points
Educate consumers
5 out of 10 points
Collaboration

Collaboration

5 out of 10 points

Explanation of points

Whole Foods Market has communicated with Friends of the Earth in the past year.

Complimentary Home & Garden Policies

Complimentary Home & Garden Policies

5 out of 9 points

Explanation of points

Whole Foods Market confirmed with Friends of the Earth that the company does not sell any home & garden products containing neonicotinoids or glyphosate.

Whole Foods Market has not made a public commitment to reduce or phase out use of neonicotinoids in live goods and garden plants.

Policy for live goods
0 out of 4 points
Policy for on-shelf pesticide products
5 out of 5 points

*Although Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, we graded these companies separately given that Whole Foods still maintains distinct policies and a substantially different business model. As of September, 2020, 508 of Amazons’ 533 brick-and-mortar grocery locations are Whole Foods stores. The remainder are Amazon Go stores.

73 Points

C
Grade

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