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Whole Trade Guarantee to Certify Sustainable Products

Whole Foods announces The Whole Trade Guarantee buying program of socially responsible products for sustainable community

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2007 -- Whole Foods has announced a program to certify a new line of ethically sourced products, bearing a new "Whole Trade Guarantee" label.

The Whole Trade Guarantee is a buying program that brings together a set of strict criteria for products from developing countries to ensure:

  • exceptional product quality,
  • more money for producers,
  • better wages and working conditions for workers,
  • sound environmental production practices that promote biodiversity, and
  • support of poverty eradication via donating one percent of product sales

Whole Foods announced the program in conjuction with TransFair USA, which certifies Fair Trade products in the United States, and the Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit that works with landowners and businesses to promote environmental stewardship.

In paying a premium for Whole Trade goods, Whole Foods' buyers can give farmers and producers a chance to expand and improve their practices and free them from the market fluctuations that can wreak havoc on small businesses. In exchange for access to high-end markets in the U.S., producers agree to pay their workers above-market wages and incorporate sound environmental practices, including soil and water conservation techniques and encouraging biodiversity.

As part of the new program, for each Whole Trade Guarantee product sold, 1 percent of the retail sale will go to the Whole Planet Foundation, which works to create economic partnerships with to fight poverty in the developing world by providing grants for micro-loans for women entrepreneurs.

By working with the Rainforest Alliance and TransFair USA, Whole Foods says it will be able to ensure that the Whole Trade Guarantee criteria are verifiable. In addition to acting as certifiers, these partners aid producers in getting their products to market, improving their operations, and verifying and tracking the program results.

The first product to bear the Whole Trade label are bananas grown at EARTH University in Costa Rica, which are grown using low-impact agriculture techniques and help support EARTH University's education and entrepreneurship programs. About 100 other products will be in the inaugural group of Whole Trade products, including tea, cocoa, mangoes, rice, sugar, and vanilla. In addition, three of Whole Foods' house-label Allegro coffees will be labeled Whole Trade.

Whole Foods aims to have over 50 percent of its imported products from the developing world meet the Whole Trade criteria within ten years, with the eventual goal of holding all its developing-world products to the Whole Trade standard.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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