OAKLAND, Calif., Mar 29, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- TransFair USA, the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, and Whole Foods Market (WFMI) , the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, today announced the Whole Trade Guarantee - a new responsible buying program meant to ensure that certain products imported from the developing world have been sourced and produced ethically, sustainably and transparently. To be included in the Whole Trade Guarantee category, a product must meet the following criteria:
-- Exceptional quality
-- More money for farmers
-- Better wages and working conditions for workers
-- Sound environmental production practices that promote biodiversity
Since Fair Trade certification guarantees farmers were paid a fair price for their crops, ensures better wages and working conditions for workers, promotes environmental stewardship, and assists producers in quality improvement, Fair Trade Certified(TM) products that meet Whole Foods Market's quality criteria are eligible for the Whole Trade Guarantee program. Whole Foods Market's goal is to have over 50 percent of its imported products from the developing world fall under the program within ten years, and the Company will be looking to TransFair USA and other third-party product certifiers to verify the above economic, social and environmental criteria. Whole Foods Market will also donate one percent of Whole Trade product sales to the Whole Planet Foundation(TM), which fights poverty by providing grants for micro loans to women entrepreneurs in the developing world.
With nearly 200 Whole Foods Market stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and the company's recent merger with more than 100 Wild Oats Markets across 24 states, the Whole Trade program offers an incredible opportunity for manufacturers of Fair Trade Certified coffee, tea & herbs, cocoa & chocolate, rice, sugar, vanilla and fresh fruit to gain additional exposure to Whole Foods Market's expanding customer base. The Whole Trade program may also accelerate the launch of additional Fair Trade Certified product categories. Today's news coincides with the opening of Whole Foods Market's 195th store in Manhattan at Bowery and Houston Streets.
"Whole Foods Market's Whole Trade Guarantee is a ground-breaking retail initiative intended to promote high-quality products that benefit workers, farmers and delicate ecosystems throughout the developing world," said TransFair USA CEO and President Paul Rice. "We're honored that our high-bar standards are at the foundation of the Whole Trade Guarantee - Fair Trade is the only product certification that guarantees farmers are paid a fair price and producer communities are paid an additional social premium for long-term sustainable development, in addition to stringent labor and environmental criteria. We look forward to partnering with Whole Foods Market to expand this emerging product category, and we will continue to empower millions of farmers and workers throughout the developing world by increasing the availability of Fair Trade Certified products on thousands of Whole Foods Market shelves. We expect the Whole Trade program to assist us in continuing the incredible growth in demand for Fair Trade Certified products."
"With our shoppers' growing concern about ethical and responsible trade, and with our Company's increasing scale and scope, the time is right for Whole Foods Market to help make more of an impact," said Whole Foods Market's co-founder and CEO John Mackey. "We look forward to working with TransFair USA and our other certifying partners to support the global community by bringing products from developing areas to the marketplace in a way that is a win for the producers and their families, for our shoppers, for the environment, and for the developing world communities where we do business."
About Fair Trade
Fair Trade certification is an innovative, market-based approach to sustainable development that helps farmers and workers in the global south benefit from international trade, while offering a simple way for conscious consumers to know that their products were produced in a socially, environmentally and economically responsible manner. Fair Trade farmers are guaranteed a fair price for their crop, and learn how to compete in the global marketplace through direct, long-term contracts with international buyers. This empowerment lifts farming families from poverty through trade, not aid, keeping food on the table, children in school and families on their land. Fair Trade workers are guaranteed fair wages and safe working conditions, and forced child labor is prohibited. Fair Trade producers are also paid an additional social premium for use on long-term community and business development projects such as healthcare, scholarships, women's leadership initiatives and micro-finance programs, as voted on by the farmers and workers themselves. Fair Trade farms require integrated crop management to prevent soil erosion and preserve wildlife habitat, with prohibitions on dangerous pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and planting in protected ecosystems. There are additional financial incentives and resources for environmental improvements such as organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education. TransFair's Global Producer Services (GPS) initiative - established in 2005 - also invests in producer development projects, including quality-improvement training, access to finance, and building operational & financial management capacity.
Since 1999, TransFair USA has certified nearly 200 million pounds of coffee, cocoa, tea, herbs, rice, sugar, vanilla, bananas, mangoes, pineapples and grapes, channeling about $85 million in additional, above-market revenue to producers in 60 developing countries throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia, benefiting an estimated 5 million people. Fair Trade product certification is increasingly recognized as "the gold standard" of responsible sourcing, and TransFair's pioneering approach is rapidly mainstreaming Fair Trade - around 600 U.S. companies now sell Fair Trade Certified products in nearly 40,000 retail locations nationwide, including supermarkets, club stores, cafes, restaurants, specialty food stores, college campuses and faith-based organizations. Fair Trade Certified coffee is the fastest-growing segment of the $11 billion U.S. specialty coffee market, growing an average of nearly 80% every year since 1999. Other Fair Trade product categories are also booming - in 2005, tea increased 187% and rice almost tenfold, and the first half of 2006 saw cocoa grow 110% and sugar 241%. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, one in four U.S. consumers have heard of Fair Trade products, and Epicurious.com predicts Fair Trade will "follow in the footsteps of organic."
About TransFair USA
TransFair USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is one of twenty members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. TransFair USA audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified(TM) products and the international suppliers from whom they source, in order to guarantee that the farmers and workers behind Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair, above-market prices and fair wages. FLO annually inspects producer organizations to ensure that strict socioeconomic development criteria is met using increased Fair Trade revenue, in addition to sustainable farm management, environmental stewardship and democratic decision making. For more information visit www.transfairusa.org.
Whole Foods Market ( www.wholefoodsmarket.com) was founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 and is the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In fiscal year 2006, the company had sales of $5.6 billion and currently has more than 190 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Whole Foods Market motto, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"(TM) captures the company's mission to find success in customer satisfaction and wellness, employee excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Whole Foods Market, Harry's Farmers Market(R), and Fresh & Wild(R) are trademarks owned by Whole Foods Market IP, LP. Whole Foods Market employs more than 42,000 team members and has been ranked for ten consecutive years as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine.