Whole Foods is asking its private label suppliers to prove that they are GM-free through a new verification system. This seems like a really good idea. Whole Foods knows that its customers do not want GM foods. But as long as GM foods are not labeled, consumers have no choice. All of this means that the FDA’s decision to forbid GM labeling was neither in the public interest (consumers have the right to know) nor in the interest of industry (companies want consumers to trust them). The new certification system will give consumers a choice.
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My source of information on all things related to supermarket produce, Perishable Pundit, has an interesting analysis of what’s going on at Whole Foods. The chain has just sold 17% of its stock to a private equity firm for $425 million. What’s this about? As the Pundit explains it, these are hard times for Whole Foods and this was the best of a bunch of unappealing options.
Despite the efforts of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block purchase of Wild Oats stores by Whole Foods on anti-trust grounds, a federal judge is allowing the merger to go through. As reported in today’s New York Times, Whole Foods believes that it needs the purchase to keep the company competitive. If Whole Foods’ competitiveness seems distasteful and inappropriate to its stated mission (as reportedly documented in FTC filings and reports of its CEO’s sometimes covert bloggings) , consider that it is a publicly traded company. Like all such companies, its primary responsibility it to stockholders and that means that it not only must make profits, but must grow and report growth to Wall Street every 90 days, or else. Shares of Whole Foods stocks rose yesterday by $3.33 so Wall Street thinks it’s doing something right. And you?