retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes reports about how a number of food co-ops around the country have decided to remove products manufactured by Eden Foods products from their shelves, citing the company's lawsuit against the US Government over the employee birth control mandate included in the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

The Eden Foods suit was similar to the Hobby Lobby suit that went to the Supreme Court, which resulted in a ruling that companies can cite religious reasons for not covering all forms of birth control in their insurance plans, essentially granting companies the same religious freedoms as individuals.

Among the co-ops that have made the decision to eliminate Eden Foods products are the Willy Street co-op in Wisconsin, Other Avenues in San Francisco, Central Co-op in Seattle, and Weaver Street Markets in North Carolina.

Kirstin Moore, director of Willy Street, said in a letter to Eden Foods owner Michael Potter, “Please stop allowing personal values to get in the way of the common ground you share with your diverse array of customers and help us return our focus to the high quality of your food."

It was a sentiment repeated by a number of other co-op directors, who noted that the decision to remove Eden Foods products was driven by the views of their members.

Forbes reports that "in July, the company sent a letter to members of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, a consortium of 160 grocery stores and small chains nationwide. In the mailing, Eden Foods explained its healthcare stance without mentioning contraceptives or birth control specifically. The letter urged grocers to consider the company’s healthy, organic, GMO-free wares above all else."
KC's View:
This is an example of how consumers will use political views to make buying decisions. Some people say this is too much information, and just a reflection of our divisive and polarized politics … but it remains true, regardless.

Of course, while Moore says that Eden Foods is "allowing personal values" to get in the way of business, the fact is that each of these co-ops is doing the same thing.

I'm actually okay with that. Companies can make value judgements and declarations, and consumers can do the same.

The bigger problem, for me, is that corporations are being classified as having the same rights and privileges as people. But that is a somewhat larger debate.