For the last three years, Costco has managed to outdo other conventional retailers when it comes to the sale of organic produce. And in 2015, the wholesaling giant's $4 billion in organic sales surpassed Whole Foods, which reported only $3.5 billion.
Costco's organic sales are growing so rapidly, that in 2016 the retailer announced that they would be pursuing an initiative to help their farmers purchase more land, so they can grow more organic food. CEO Craig Jelinek reportedly told investors, "We cannot get enough organics to stay in business day in and day out."
On the other hand, Whole Foods continues to encounter difficulties of a different sort. While Costco is doing their best to keep with extremely high demand, Whole Foods has hit what the Chicago Tribune reportedly described as their "worst sales slump in more than a decade."
After six consecutive quarters of same-store declines, Whole Foods was forced to close the doors of nine different stores.
Whole Foods has also been host to more than its fair share of scandals. For example, in 2016, Mike Adams reported on how the business was supporting Monsanto's plans to obfuscate proper GMO labeling laws.
Whole Foods' current decline and their reprehensible behavior lie in stark contrast with Costco. Assistant Vice President and General Merchandise Manager Heather Shavey says that Costco had been preparing for their rise to the top of the organic marketplace for more than five years. Shavey notes that while many retailers thought organics were nothing more than a passing trend, Costco chose to invest in the clean food market.
Clearly, their dedication has come with handsome rewards.
Not only has Costco taken an interest in the number of organic items offered in their stores, but they have also taken the entire organic landscape to heart. As Organic Authority explains, less than one percent of US farmland is certified organic, but Costco began looking for ways to help increase the amount of organic farmland in 2016.
Costco's new program seeks to offer financial assistance to farmers looking to expand and grow their farms by purchasing more land. In return, Costco merely asks for "first dibs" on the organic produce that they grow. The retailer has even purchased its own cattle and is working with the owners of organic fields in Nebraska to raise them.
Not only is Costco making organic food more accessible, they are giving back to the industry by providing farmers with the opportunity for growth.
It is no wonder why Costco's organic sales continue to soar.