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Whole Foods Commits to Genetically Modified Food Labels

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March 9 (Bloomberg) -- Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest U.S. natural-foods grocer, said it will label products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms.

Whole Foods stores in the U.S. and Canada will label all food in the next five years, the Austin, Texas-based chain said in a statement yesterday. The company, which sells about 3,300 non-genetically modified items, last year supported a measure in California that would have mandated genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such. Proposition 37 failed.

“We’re responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb said in the statement.

Whole Foods, which has recently announced plans to begin opening locations in food deserts, has outperformed the competition. Its shares advanced 31 percent last year, compared with a 7.4 percent gain for Kroger Co. and a 14 percent drop for Safeway Inc., the largest and second-largest U.S. grocery-store chains, respectively.

There are about 345 Whole Foods locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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