3 March 2004
US Food Chain Enters UK with Animal Welfare
as a Priority
Whole Foods Demands Highest-Ever Standards!
The gauntlet has been thrown down by quality US supermarket
chain, Whole Foods Market, with its recent purchase of the
UK Fresh & Wild supermarket chain. Whole Foods Market
has made animal welfare one of their top priorities and its
high standards expose the 'animal friendly' claims of other
British supermarkets as being little more than marketing hype.
With 145 stores in the US, annual growth of 21 per cent and
a turnover approaching $4 billion, Whole Foods recently transformed
its attitude to animals after a two-year long campaign against
it by animal group Viva!USA, founded by the Bristol-based
British group, Viva! Late last year Whole Foods' CEO, John
Mackey, conceded that Viva! was correct that Whole Foods Market's
standards needed to be higher in order to maintain good animal
welfare standards. Following discussions with Viva!'s US campaigns
director, lauren Ornelas, Mackey researched the issues on
his own and ultimately took the
step of becoming vegan once he became convinced of the inherent
animal cruelty involved in modern livestock production and
In a press statement issued by Viva!USA, Mackey stated that
Market would seek animal welfare improvements from its duck
along with an end to that supplier's involvement in the foie
gras market. Since then, Whole Foods Market has been working
with their suppliers and animal welfare organizations, including
Viva!USA to draw up new and vastly improved 'animal compassionate'
standards, beginning with ducks. Access to fresh air, water
for swimming, the ability to roost and to forage are amongst
the requirements, all of which are entirely denied most UK
"Whole Foods is helping to create a paradigm shift in
the way farm animals are treated", says John Mackey.
"We don't want incremental change that leaves the industrial
farming model still operable. We are committing to a revolution.
We are starting with ducks and are going to go on to all other
species. We intend to bring all interested parties to the
table, including animal welfare bodies". Viva!, of course,
will be amongst them!
Speaking from Bristol, Juliet Gellatley, Viva!'s international
director says: "This is a momentous victory for Viva!
and we congratulate John Mackey's honesty. We just wish other
CEOs would also admit the obvious. With Whole Foods intention
to bring similar standards to Britain, this could certainly
be a revolution for farmed animals. It will also expose as
utterly hypocritical the claims of our mainstream supermarkets
to care about animal welfare. They are the driving force behind
factory farming, which they cloak with spin and phoney assurance
schemes, as Viva! has exposed time and again.
"Every time we go behind the closed doors of a factory
farm and produce footage showing just how appalling the conditions
are for animals, our evidence is met with denials. Our recent
expose of conditions on a Tesco pig farm was dismissed with
the claim that the RSPCA had inspected the animals and found
no abuses. This was entirely untrue and Tesco know this. They
also know it is impossible for anyone to check, so secretive
is modern farming", concludes Ms Gellatley.
For further information contact Tony Wardle or Juliet Gellatley
on 0117 944 1000
Other Viva! campaigns.
Viva! virtually ended the sale of 'exotic' meats such
as kangaroo, ostrich and emu, when 1,500 supermarkets emptied
their shelves. Brought the UK ostrich industry to its knees.
Viva! exposed the dreadful conditions inside Bernard Matthews'
turkey factory farms. Turkey sales dropped.
Viva! was the first to expose the factory farming of ducks
in Britain, ended the painful practice of debeaking and brought
about welfare improvements.
Viva! campaign against ritual religious slaughter helped
to end 'home slaughter'.
Viva!'s Pig in Hell campaign revealed the disgrace of
modern pig production with covert footage of 30 plus farms.
Pork sales declined.
Viva! Poland credited by the country's chief vet with
slashing live horse exports to Italy for meat.