Whole Foods Bring CSR Business Accountability to New LevelCSR, CSR Business, News | Elyse | August 10, 2011 at 12:01 am
Upscale supermarket chain Whole Foods is taking their unique CSR business concept direct to their customers and helping them make informed purchasing decisions in the process. Their goal is to educate customers on where their meat products come from and the process it took to get to their plates. “It’s often easy to forget that the burger, steak or drumstick on your plate was once an animal. How was that animal raised? How was it treated? Where did it come from? What about added hormones and antibiotics? Was its growth artificially accelerated to get to market sooner and reduce feed cost? [Whole Foods is] committed to answering these questions.”
The grocery chain best known for being the supermarket of choice on the Bravo smash hit Top Chef, is implementing a 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards program. They have “chosen to partner with Global Animal Partnership to certify [their] producers’ animal welfare practices. [The are] rolling out their 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards in every Whole Foods Market store in the United States.” For those that are not familiar with Global Animal Partnership, it “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to continually improving the lives of farm animals.”
The five steps are:
1. No crates, no cages. This means that the animals on the farm get to move around and are not restrained.
2. Enriched environment. This is an expansion on step one where by farmers “encourage behavior that’s natural to [the animals]— like a bale of straw for chickens to peck at, a bowling ball for pigs to shove around, or a sturdy object for cattle to rub against.”
3. Enhanced outdoor access. This is fairly straightforward; the animals might be raised indoors, but are given the chance to go outside.
4. Pasture centered. “When living outdoors, chickens get to forage, pigs get to wallow, and cattle get to roam.”
5. Animal centered; all physical alteration are prohibited. “Animals get to live their whole lives with all the body parts they were born with.”
5+ Animal centered; entire life on same farm. “Animals raised to Step 5+ standards must be born and live their entire lives on one farm.”
Thus far the program is only for pigs, chickens and cattle. However, “[s]tandards for other species (turkeys, lambs and others) are in development.” In an age where people are becoming increasingly conscious of the food they are eating, Whole Foods are smart to be taking it to a new level by bringing in a social and moral standard to meat. Not to mention theses guidelines have been clearly defined and are being actively enforced.
Not all chicken, beef or pork at Whole Foods will meet a level five+ standard; the grocery chain maintains “that getting to Step 1 is a great accomplishment! Step 1 requires more from our farmers and ranchers than we have ever asked before. The Step ratings are assigned by independent third-party certifiers using auditors trained by Global Animal Partnership.” Though some of these meat products are certified organic this rating system does not apply.
Whole Foods are working on expanding on this CSR business concept by bringing similar standards to their stores in Canada and the U.K. UPDATE: Whole Foods announced that 5 Step Rating available at stores across Canada.
You can read their 7-page brochure titled “5 Step Animal Welfare Rating – Your way of knowing how our meat animals were raised” here.
Not to make light of Whole Foods CSR Business Initiatives but it reminded me of this scene from Portlandia