Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Focus on Local

It’s not news to anyone (except The New York Times, apparently) that local food has hit grocery stores in a big way, due to ever-increasing consumer demand. Whole Foods Market is no exception. In fact, we were out in front of the curve!  Although we’ve always had a strong commitment to local products, we made a more concerted effort in the past few years and have seen the amount of local product in our stores increase dramatically as a result. In the fall of 2006, we hired our very first Local Forager, a Team Member whose sole position is to source local product – in this case, in our North Atlantic region. Since then other regional foragers have been hired, numerous store Team Members have added local foraging to their job duties, and throughout the company we’ve seen our renewed focus on local purchasing impact the way we do business. All this while we continue to focus on our Quality Standards and our commitment to bringing our customers the highest quality food available. Here are some of the things we are doing:

  • increasing local product throughout our stores, and improving signage to help our customers find local products
  • putting more energy into promoting local products, including bringing local producers in for demonstrations, hosting “Local Days,” and featuring local producers on our website
  • hosting farmer’s markets at our stores in certain areas
  • holding company-wide workshops which allow Team Members to discuss the challenges local purchasing presents and to share best practices
  • bringing together local producers at vendor seminars, where we explain how Whole Foods Market works and give producers the chance to get their products in front of buyers
  • increasing communication internally to help our local vendors grow as they see fit
  • funding our Local Producer Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans to our local producers

Of course, I’m particularly proud of the last one, since I run the program! The recent New York Times article on local food even featured one of our loan recipients, Red Jacket Orchards. They have supplied our stores for about eight years now, and we are so pleased to have been able to help them purchase high tunnels, which shelter the delicate fruit they grow during inclement weather. So next time you are in one of our stores, check out the local offerings. And let us know if you have a favorite local product that we need to know about!