(Sept. 6) CHICAGO — A commitment to change and long-term sustainability will guide Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market Inc. into the future.

That’s what James Parker, retail produce coordinator, said at the U.S. Apple Association’s annual meeting Aug. 18.

By constantly reinventing itself, Whole Foods has stayed on top of market trends, Parker said.

“A debate within Whole Foods is, ‘How often should we reinvent ourselves?’” Parker said. “We keep changing. One of the great dangers is complacency.”

Although Whole Foods is constantly transforming, Parker said the retailer and its growers should not succumb to short-term fads. If an apple grower makes a bad decision about a variety, it will take longer to correct than a row crop mistake, Parker said.

To boost organic sales, Parker suggested retailers sell organic and conventional produce in the same area. By doing so, a retailer can maintain a consistent supply when organic supplies run low.

Parker suugested other principles guiding organic sales:

  • Consumers are becoming more educated about health and the environment. More than any other demographic, baby boomers have driven this trend, Parker said.

  • A rediscovered consumer interest in local and regional agriculture has fueled organic growth. Most people associate local with organic, so consumers have demanded more local and organic produce, he said.

  • The “Good Food Revolution” — More than local and organic produce, Parker said, consumers care about flavor and texture. For apples, that can mean new versus old varieties.