Whole Foods Markets (WF) owns and operates the largest chain of natural food stores in the United States. Already an internationally-recognized brand synonymous with organic and natural foods, the chain prides itself on its commitment to sustainable agriculture, wise environmental practices and community involvement. This paper applies a SWOT analysis to each of the key triple bottom line elements (economic impact, environmental stewardship and social responsibility) associated with Whole Foods’ operations to assess the degree to which they have achieved their goals in corporate social responsibility. The paper finds that while WF has made great strides in proving the profitability of its business model, mainstreaming demand for organic, locally-grown foods, and promoting Fair Trade products, market pressure to scale its business threatens to undermine many of its founding principles, e.g., supporting local farmers and minimizing the food miles associated with transporting produce. The authors’ recommendations include developing a quantifiable measure of the company’s efforts to meet its environmental commitment and more stringently monitoring the custody chain for its Fair Trade products.
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