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Whole Foods Case Study

Essay by   •  August 9, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,809 Words (8 Pages)  •  2,437 Views

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I. Introduction

For the last 27 years Whole Foods has been a leader in the natural and organic foods market across the United States. Their motto is, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet." They claim that their mission is to not only support the health and well-being of people in general, but also to help and support the planet by being actively involved in the local communities. Natural foods and organic foods, although similar, are different by definition. Natural foods are foods that are minimally processed and contain no artificial colors or ingredients. Organic foods are foods that had to be "grown and processed without the use of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, synthetic chemicals, artificial fertilizers, preservatives, dyes or additives, or genetic engineering."

To actually be able to label something "organic" is taken very seriously and you can't just slap a sticker on a product. There must be proof that is it in fact organic. The public's perception of Whole Foods tends to be that they carry ONLY %100 organic foods and that's not entirely true. They also carry non-organic, more high-end specialty grocery products at elevated prices. This paper will focus on two of the major issues having to do with Whole Foods and the way they use their core values to run their business. It will be written from the perspective of a local farmer from Florida who is also a participant in local farmers markets.

II. Identification of Issues

There are many different issues I came across after gaining knowledge about Whole Foods Market. One of which would have to be that their organization is one that is based on a very strict set of core values that they base every aspect of running their business on. Among these core values are selling the highest quality of natural and organic products available, satisfy their customers, make sure their team members are happy and creating wealth through profits and growth. They claim that their deepest purpose is to promote the health and general well-being of everyone on earth as well as the earth itself. Another important issue is Whole Foods' clientele. Whole Foods main market is geared toward young upper-middle class, urban, educated professionals as well as some wealthy older people. Whole foods' products tend to be very pricy, therefore not an option for everyone else.

Whole Foods has an exceedingly large array of food and products including their own brand called "365 everyday value" that they claim is less expensive than everything else. By 2007 they were considered the world's biggest seller of organic produce, about %67 of their sales. Another popular attraction they have is their deli with a fresh sandwich/soup/salad bar with a bistro type atmosphere which is the most appealing to those on their lunch breaks from work. Customer satisfaction is an additional issue that is imperative to the culture and atmosphere created by Whole Foods. They do so by providing exceptional one-on-one customer service with each individual as well as educational stations that provide nutritional information and some even include recipes.

The overall perception of Whole Foods is that every single product in their stores is %100 organic when in reality, it's not. In addition, they also have high end, non-organic grocery products. Team work and team building exercises play a pretty big part in Whole Foods' store operations. It's key that they have a very strong bond as a team at each individual Whole Foods store as well as Whole Foods as a corporation because that's how they give such great customer service. They motivate their employees to do well by offering different benefits packages. They actually allow their employees to actively participate in deciding what their incentives should be and they permit them to choose for themselves.

III. Analysis of Key Issues

There are two main issues that I am going to discuss that are key to myself and other local farmers around the country. One being that, although Whole Foods claims to be a big supporter of local farmers and even provides marketing in each store to that effect, it is not always the case. For example, let's say you live in New York and you want to buy a pound of fresh tomatoes. You can choose between conventionally grown New Jersey tomatoes or organic ones grown in Chile. Of course, the New Jersey tomatoes will be cheaper. They will certainly be fresher, having traveled a fraction of the distance. But which is the more eco-conscious choice? The choice is obvious in terms of energy savings because of all the fossil fuel used to get those organic tomatoes all the way here from Chile. The point is that Whole Foods claims to be so eco-friendly but instead of only buying the tomatoes from a local farmer in New Jersey, they also opted to import other tomatoes all the way from Chile for a much higher cost, not only monetary but also to the environment.

The other main issue is the clientele that Whole Foods is aimed toward and how that affects their core values and mission. Whole Foods is no doubt one of the more high-end food retailers when it comes to grocery stores. Not only do they charge more for their organic and natural products, they also choose to carry many novelty and specialty items



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