Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Quality Standards and the Multi-Stakeholder Process

At Whole Foods Market®, we’ve got a wide range of stakeholders. These are the people who have an interest or an investment in what we do or sell. Most directly, we’ve got our customers, team members, suppliers and investors.

Indirectly, our stakeholders also include members of the public who are watching and commenting (sometimes publically) on what we do, such as environmental and consumer groups. As Whole Foods Market continually works to be the leader in responsible sourcing of food and other products, our stakeholders challenge us to aim high.

And this is a good thing!

Simultaneously, we must consider all of our stakeholders’ points of view and balance these perspectives so that at the end of the day we have practical standards that the most motivated and innovative suppliers can meet and we have high-quality products to offer our customers.

So, what is a multi-stakeholder process, anyway? Essentially, it’s a forum for bringing different perspectives to the table. Let’s take a real life example. Right now we’re working on developing a new set of Seafood Quality Standards — our standards for farmed molluscs (a.k.a shellfish like clams, mussels and oysters).

The process is well on its way and we aim to finish this spring.

To create the standards, we studied the published science, visited farms from coast to coast, met with farmers and talked with many scientists to make sure we understood the issues. We also sought input from environmentalists. These discussions occurred during meetings, on the phone and over email.

The process can occur in many ways! We're also holding meetings with all of our supplier partners to review our draft standards point-by-point and get their feedback.

The first farmed mollusc supplier meeting took place January 10th at our North Atlantic regional office and attendance was great. We hosted Whole Foods Market seafood buyers, representatives from our Quality Standards Team and Global Food Safety teams, and our consultant, Oceanographer Jon Grant from Dalhousie University in Canada.

Almost twenty east coast growers participated in the meeting, hailing from Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, Canada.

Together with the growers, we reviewed the standards and had engaging discussions on a range of topics including what makes a production system aquaculture (vs. wild capture), disease prevention, standards for monitoring and preventing impacts to sediments under farms, harvesting, predator control and traceability.

We received productive feedback and, fortunately, it looks like we’re on the right track with our standards. Running a multi-stakeholder process is a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end because when our stakeholders are involved in the process of developing standards, they’re invested in the outcome and can share in the success.

Look for more details on the farmed mollusc standards this spring!

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Sandra Le De La Cruz says …

Hello I am looking for wild catch salmon,trout,tuna and talapia do your stores carry that thank you in advance. Sandra

Janet Gilbreath says …

I was recently in your Birmingham, AL store and traveled 70 miles to get there. I was unhappy that you have begun to sell many of your fresh fish by the piece as oposed to by the pound. This dosen't work for me and I feel it will be an issue for many. There are many reasons we prefer to purchase by the pound, so I hope you will consider us the customer and go back to selling your fresh fish by the pound. Thank you

Glen Buford says …

Wanted to thank you for the information and videos on your website. It's used quite often in my class for learning and info for projects. I teach advanced culinary arts to high school students at a career and technical center in Porter county Indiana. My son is seafood team leader in Duluth, Georgia and suggested I check out some videos and info which the students enjoy regularly. Thank you

Baiyina Salahuddin says …

Dear Carrie, I didn't know that Whole Foods had a blog. I must say I'm very impressed. I didn't realize Whole Foods was working this hard to ensure its seafood supply-chain will be sustainable and produce quality healthful fish for your customers. As a marine scientist and environmental manager I know all too well that most fishing operations are incredibly unsustainable. So keep up the good work. I hope Whole Foods continues to make great strides, and I look forward to participating & contributing stride by stride.

says …

@Lynn Thank you for reaching out. To learn where the shrimp offered at your community Whole Foods Market come from we encourage you to reach out to your store. The link below will help identify the contact information for your store where a Team Member will be happy to chat with you about the shrimps origin. Thank you for your loyalty.

Lynn Friedman says …

I wish you had gulf frozen shrimp. Peeled & deveined. Thank you

Reach says …

Wow! It is very exciting to read about the diligence and commitment WholeFoods has for the quality in the food industry supply-chain--especially in Seafood. Keep it coming!

Rosalie Almas says …

I would like to see more Kosher items to be available, since they are clearly more healthy for us. GMO items should be CLEARLY labeled so we can avoid them.