Country Natural Beef producers will continue to have access to Whole Foods customers, the grocery chain announced this week.
Last week, Whole Foods announced it would stop buying beef from Beef Northwest feedyard, located at Boardman, OR, because of an effort by United Farm Workers to unionize the operation (“Union Targets Oregon Feedlot; Whole Foods Caves,” June 6 BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly). Because Country Natural Beef cattle are finished at the feedyard, the announcement effectively blocked the flow of product to retail customers.
However, Whole Foods reversed its stance this week and said it will continue to buy Country Natural Beef from the feedyard despite the efforts by union activists. Whole Foods is Country Natural Beef’s biggest customer, making up 70% of the co-op’s business.
Whole Foods spokeswoman Libba Letton said many Whole Foods customers felt the chain’s actions were a sign of support for UFW. “We heard a lot from our customers that they believed that it was a sign that we weren’t supporting Country Natural Beef, which our customers are a very big fan of.”