According to Whole Foods Market, Inc.'s Form 10-K from 2002, the company's "goal is to become an international brand synonymous with not just natural and organic foods, but with being the best food retailer in every community in which we are located." The vision of Whole Foods goes deeper than just being a successful grocery store. The company is dedicated to ultimately improving the world in general; it plans to do this by continuing to focus on its immediate visions, which include offering the highest quality of all-natural foods and nurturing a respectful, motivated workplace in which employees are treated fairly. The company's philosophy also includes the declaration that "companies, like individuals, must assume their share of responsibility as tenants of the Earth."
Overall external factors with immediate effects on Whole Food Market Inc.s business include economic, social, and ecological. Currently, consumers are overspending their personal income limits, energy costs are remaining high as well as interest rates rising. All of these economic issues result in a decreasing disposable personal income among consumers, which could lead to cost saving and discount purchases efforts. For Whole Foods, this can be seen as a possible threat to sales and earnings because of the companys well-known high prices. The most influential social factor, which can be seen as a definite opportunity for Whole Foods is America's current Health Consciousness state. Many consumers are taking a stake in improving their eating habits and overall health than ever before. With the continued spread of the health conscious movement, stores like Whole Foods can do nothing but gain.
The natural and organic food retail industry has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. This industry saw vast growth during the 1990s, but upon arrival of the 2000s, the growth has steadied itself at 7-9 percent per year from the previous decade's two-digit growth figures. The natural and organic food retail industry to which Whole Foods belongs is only a small segment of the large Grocery retail industry. Whole Foods' sales account for less than 1% of the US grocery market. However, this small segment is still a great influence on the grocery/supermarket business. Natural food stores have become increasingly more prosperous and popular over the past 20 years due to the demand for organic products by a growing number of consumers. According to a survey by the Organic Trade Association, the average US household will spend 14% of its budget on organic products by 2025.
Consumers shopping within the natural and organic food retail industry cannot be classified into one category of the market. According to many surveys, all age groups can be found shopping in natural and organic food stores, but there has been a significant increase in young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 as well as adults aged 55 to 64. The main reasons customers shop at natural and organic food stores include the avoidance of genetically modified foods and pesticides, health and nutrition, and freshness.
Suppliers to the natural and organic food retailers are of course organic farmers. In 2004, only 1 percent of US farmland was designated as organic cropland, however, this number has doubled since 1997, seen in Exhibit 1. It is an important goal for at least 5 percent of U.S. farmers to be dedicated to organic farming by 2013. Current, obstacles to adoption of organic farming include high managerial costs and risks of shifting to a new way of farming, limited awareness of organic farming systems, lack of marketing and infrastructure, and inability to capture marketing economies. However, as prices for staple commodities are falling, many U.S. farmers are embracing organic farming in order to capture high-value markets and increase farm income.
The largest competitors in the natural and organic foods...