Niman Ranch and Whole Foods Market® have been working together for almost 15 years and we’ve developed a great partnership.
In mid-February, Whole Foods Market and Niman Ranch came together to work on a new program called Niman East, supplying pork products to our Mid-Atlantic stores from a small group of East coast farmers.
Typically Niman Ranch farmers are from the midwest, but over the years we’ve been contacted by East coast farmers who want to work with us. We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring together farmers in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Delaware and create a small program exclusively for Whole Foods Market.
Our Niman East Program consists of a small group of about 20 farmers from the area. Plus, Niman Ranch’s CEO, Jeff Swain, is originally from Pennsylvania so he had an avid interest in making this work!” says Lori Lyon of Niman Ranch. Jason Belleau, our Regional Meat Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic, shares, “The Niman East Program is something we were very eager to support here.
Niman is a leader in the pork industry, supplying us with great-tasting, locally sourced pork raised on small family farms.” In addition to the pigs being raised on the East coast, they’re processed in the same area, at a small plant in Souderton, PA.
To be part of the Niman East Program and to meet Whole Foods Market's requirements, each farm is inspected by a third-party certifier to the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Welfare Rating Program.
No pigs at Whole Foods Market have been raised in farrowing or gestation crates. Plus the pigs are raised with no antibiotics, and are never given growth hormones* or animal by-products in their feed.
*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork
Not only is it gratifying to be able to buy meat from local sources, it has also kept this group of farmers doing what they love to do – farming! For some farmers, the Niman East Program has helped them stay on their farms and given them the opportunity to grow their business.
Photos of Niman East Pigs courtesy of Niman Ranch
Have you seen the Niman East pork program in your local meat case? Or if you live further afield, have you tried local pork? Tell us what you think!