Report from Whole Foods Market on Responsibly Grown Rating System Adjustments

In July CCOF and Whole Foods Market announced that productive discussions between organic farmers and the retailer would result in adjustments to Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown rating system. Read more about this announcement on our blog.

Following is a list of the proposed adjustments and a report from Vice President of Procurement – Perishables Edmund LaMacchia on their status.

  1. Certified organic produce and flowers will be granted a minimum rating of “Good” until January 1, 2016. No certified organic produce will be labeled as “Unrated.”
  2. Whole Foods Market will adjust in-store signage to clearly label non-organic produce and floral items as “Conventional.”
    See below for the rating sticker that has been delivered to all stores for full implementation by October 1, 2015.


Produce Rating System

  1. Whole Foods Market will increase supplier training and provide additional support for all suppliers through a series of regional grower meetings.
    Whole Foods Market is launching a series of regional meetings. The first one will take place on the Central Coast and in Northern California in October. We also plan to hold a session at EcoFarm at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California. Additional regional meetings have been scheduled for January 2016.
  2. Certified organic products will be further recognized with additional points. Base points for organic certification will increase from 10 to 20 points.
    This was done. In addition to the point increase, we have gathered input from growers regarding areas where additional points should be granted automatically. This input is being evaluated and we will soon recommend additional adjustments.
  3. Whole Foods Market will make a commitment to continuous evaluation and improvement of the Responsibly Grown through multi-stakeholder input.
    We are revising the Responsibly Grown rating system and plan to eliminate the “Good,” “Better,” “Best” nomenclature. Replacing the rating system taxonomy is a top priority, and we will share more thoughts soon, with the goal of having a replacement rating system operational by May 2016.

    We also met with a group of CCOF growers to discuss adjustments to the current scoring system that would give organic produce more points. We are now integrating their input into revisions to the scoring system (including #4, above).

    Additionally, we are conducting bi-weekly accuracy audits in all stores, managed by regional produce leadership. We plan to introduce periodic third-party audits, and are keeping records of our audits to demonstrate improvement.


This article was written by Edmund LaMacchia

Edmund LaMacchia joined Whole Foods Market in 1990, bringing a personal commitment to environmental change through the progress of organic agriculture. His career has been devoted to the development of organic practices and sustainability. Edmund served as the national produce buyer until 2005 when he named to the newly created position of vice president of procurement-perishables.