Whole Foods Market announced at Natural Products Expo West that, by 2018, all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency.
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market.
“The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult to select non-GMO products. We are increasing our support of organic, and we are working with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”
Whole Foods Market now has 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products, more than any North American retailer. In 2009, it began putting its 365 Everyday Value line through Non-GMO Project verification and encouraged its grocery suppliers to do the same.
It is expanding this effort to work with all suppliers as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources, or clearly label products containing GMOs by the five-year deadline. The company will announce its progress along the way.
“We’re responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” said Robb.
GMOs are now part of an ongoing national conversation, thanks to efforts of various advocacy groups and to U.S. states considering their own labeling laws.
Robb added, “While we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.”
“We have always believed quality and transparency are inseparable and that providing detailed information about our products is part of satisfying and delighting the millions of people who place their trust in Whole Foods Market each day,” said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods Market.
“This bold task will encourage manufacturers to ask deeper questions about ingredients and it will help us provide greater transparency about what we sell, so our customers can be empowered to make informed decisions.”