Shane Commentary


Whole Foods Promotes At the Fork Documentary

Jan 27, 2017


In an exercise in self-promotion and consistent with the corporate desire to appeal to an exclusive and affluent demographic, Whole Foods Market has assumed responsibility for retail marketing of At the Fork

This documentary, aired to limited audiences during the summer of 2016, is also available via iTunes and   The “documentary” is decidedly opposed to intensive livestock and food production.  The production was by John Papola a claimed “omnivore” and his spouse, Lisa Versaci, a vegetarian.

Experts featured in the documentary include Leah Garces, Director of U.S. Operations for Compassion in World Farming and a Board Member of Global Animal Partnership, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Mark Bittman, a cookbook author and John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market.


The documentary is effectively an infomercial for Whole Foods Market which adopts a decidedly holier-than-thou attitude with regard to welfare through its adoption of the Global Animal Partnership-5 Step animal welfare program.  Mackey with characteristic arrogance, stated “Whole Foods is supporting the film because it believes it has the power to help drive change across the country.”  He added “in addition to sparking a deep conversation about animal welfare in agriculture, the film showcases how consumers can vote with their dollars to directly influence the way farmers raise their animals.”

Given the suboptimal financial performance of Whole Foods Market including their anaemic growth in same store sales (-2.6% for Q4, 2016), Mackey would benefit his shareholders by adopting a more mainstream program of sourcing, eschewing the “we-can-out-welfare-the-opposition” approach. This would allow the Company to reduce shelf prices since the competition both from above and below are siphoning off WFM customers. For Fiscal 2016 WFM earned $507 million on sales of $15.72 billion, representing a respectable 3.2 percent profit margin. Twelve-month share price has ranged from $27.67 to $35.58.