This makes the company the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for what it terms “full GMO transparency.” Up to the 2018 deadline, Whole Foods says it will work in collaboration with its suppliers as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.
The five-year lead time is due to the complexities surrounding GMO products, the company says. The prevalence of GMOs in the US, coupled with a lack of labeling guidelines makes it very difficult for grocery stores to source non-GMO choices, according to Whole Foods.
Many of Whole Foods’ suppliers are already moving toward non-GMO ingredients and, as such, the company expects to see progress much sooner than the five-year deadline.
For many years, the company has sourced its 365 Everyday Value products to avoid GMOs in their plant-based ingredients. In 2009, it began putting this line through the Non-GMO Project verification program and encouraged its grocery supplier partners to do the same. Whole Foods Market currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America, the company says.
A survey released this month by Market Dynamics LOHAS and Laz PR found that shoppers have moved past ingredient lists and are now focused on seeking out non-genetically modified and sustainable “farm to table” products. The survey showed that consumers are also increasing the money they spend on such products.