To recap some of the issues that Whole Foods has dealt with behind the scenes: although it has revolutionized the organic and fair trade industry with its focus on health-conscious individuals, Whole Foods has deceived customers. The first example is the alleged price scandals at established stores. Here, mislabeled weights of certain packaged foods led to overcharges between one and fifteen dollars. The public relations team had little effect in limiting this problem as that trust with customers had been broken. The second example is in the use of cheap prison labor in the production of some of their expensive cheeses. Unfair wages were bring paid to those suppliers, as inmates were paid between just seventy-four cents to four dollars per day. It relates similarly to what we have seen at Nike and Apple, but Whole Foods actually stood by their actions because of their claims that it supposedly teaches innate skills to those inmates.
So, when I searched for “food companies that sell healthy food”, Whole Foods is always the first one to come up on the lists that are shown because of the knowledge consumers have of this company. Similar competitors have faced problems of their own throughout their paths in today’s capitalistic economy that relate to the issues of Whole Foods, but their different approaches have allowed them to find solutions to these problems. Blue Diamond Growers is one of those companies, which specializes in selling almonds and tree nuts. Their focus on the health of its consumers is evident, with Your Health being one of the main tabs available to choose from when visiting their website.
Blue Diamond Growers puts an emphasis on the overall quality of their products and facilities:
In addition to the nutrition that they promise, Blue Diamond Growers claims that one of its commitments is “supporting those community organizations that most benefit the quality of life of youth in each of these communities.” So, we can see that Blue Diamond Growers has similar values as Whole Foods, but the actual ability to stick to that commitment of values is what differentiates the two companies. 89% of Whole Foods’ pre-packaged foods at one point had been mislabeled and overpriced, but Blue Diamond Growers has never had this problem before. A major aspect of building a customer base for these food companies that market themselves around healthy and organic foods is the trust that they can build between their customers. As Whole Foods took advantage of that trust, Blue Diamond Growers knows the importance of that trust and how it has led to profits and success, and so I don’t believe Blue Diamond Growers would ever stoop to mislabeling their products in order to gain an extra profit. Especially seeing the fines Whole Foods received, and more importantly, the loss in customers due to poor media outrage because of the incident, companies such as Blue Diamond Growers learned that customers are one of the most important stakeholders throughout this process.
The other aspect that Blue Diamond Growers has excelled in compared to Whole Foods is the relationship with another stakeholder – its employees. Ryan discussed in his blog post how prison inmates are used by Whole Foods to make its cheese. In fact, Whole Foods had utilized more than 60,000 prison inmates throughout this process, with the pay not equaling the work. On the other hand, Blue Diamond Growers doesn’t utilize cheap labor like Whole Foods, while it does pay its employees a satisfactory pay. They even hire Safety Managers to ensure the safety of both their employees, and their facilities and food products. This emphasis on safety has separated them from the pack in the health-food industry, as Blue Diamond Growers has put a major focus on not just its customers, but its employees too.
Only one issue arose when I had been doing some research regarding Blue Diamond Growers, and this was in regards to unions. Some employees did feel they could receive more benefits, and the possibility of joining a union had become present for the almond workers. However, in a secret vote at a Sacramento warehouse of Blue Diamond Growers, employees had decided to vote against joining a union, citing that they had felt their team of workers would be able to work together as a team, and to work with the management of Blue Diamond Growers to receive the benefits they desire. Overall, there is a strong link between the success of this company and the attention towards stakeholders, and it is something that Whole Foods had unfortunately not taken advantage of in its earlier endeavors.
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