The first step in the seven-step rational decision-making process is defining the problem.
One problem for Whole Foods is that its stock prices have been fluctuating significantly. Stock was priced at $67 per share in 2013 but fell to $31 per share in 2015. Though stock gained an additional 6% in 2016, analysts wonder how well Whole Foods is holding up under competition.
One reason for the fall in stock market value is that Whole Foods has faced two different lawsuits. One was filed by PETA, who claimed the Whole Foods 5-step-rating system for meat sold at the counter was a "sham"; however, Whole Foods successfully won the case, and charges were dismissed (Stempel, J., "Whole Foods Wins Dismissal of PETA Lawsuit Over Meat Claims," Reuters). The second lawsuit is still ongoing and filed by shareholder Yochanan Markman, who claims that Whole Foods was overcharging prepackaged foods by stating "incorrect weights" (Dent, M., "Why Whole Foods is Facing a Whole Lot of Problems," The Fiscal Times). More importantly, Markman claims Whole Foods intentionally raised the prices to con shareholders by artificially increasing the company's value (Dent). CEOs Walter Robb and John Mackey admitted that pricing errors did occur but denied the errors were part of a scheme to con shareholders (Grisales, C., "Lawsuit Claims Whole Foods Violated Securities Laws, Misled Consumers," My Statesman).
The next 6 steps in the rational decision-making process are pinpointing a possible decision, weighing the decision, pinpointing other options for decisions, weighing the alternative decisions, choosing the best decision, "take action, and review the decision" ("Decision-Making Process," University of Massachusetts Dartmouth).
To increase share value, Whole Foods must regain consumer confidence. To regain consumer confidence, although Whole Foods won the case against PETA, Whole Foods can consider dropping using the five-point rating system of humane animal husbandry upon which Global Animal Protection bases its certification. Using this system, farms can be certified as humane with a rating of 1 to 5, the most humane being rated a 5. A rating of 1 "allows for intensive crowding, minimal access to pasture, castration without anesthesia, and nose ringing for pigs" (McWilliams, J., "Animal Welfare Labeling: What They're Not Telling You," Free From Harm). While the certification system is not the worst in existence, it is certainly not the best. Whole Foods could consider switching to a more reliable certification system using a smaller certification company such as Animal Welfare Institute. An alternative decision is that, since Whole Foods helped initiate Global Animal Protection's 5-point system, Whole Foods could also initiate an improvement in the system, making farms that currently have a 5 rating the only certifiable farms.