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Whole Foods Market Introduces First Participants of Local and Emerging Accelerator Program

Whole Foods Market today announced the first cohort of brand participants in the company’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP).

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Whole Foods Market announced the first cohort of brand participants in the company’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program. The program, which advances Whole Foods Market’s core value of seeking win-win partnerships with suppliers, will provide mentorship, education and the potential for financial support to promote business growth. The initial cohort of 10 participants showcases up-and-coming brands from across the US Upon successful completion of the program, including compliance with Whole Foods Market’s Quality Standards for ingredients, cohort members will have the opportunity to become Whole Foods Market suppliers and gain placement on the shelves of their home city’s Whole Foods Market stores.

Whole Foods Market is pleased to introduce the following brands as participants in the program:

  • Buns Bakery: Buns Bakery is a traditional Israeli-Jewish bakery based in Providence, Rhode Island, offering artisanal, crafted babka, challah and rugelach. The North Atlantic Region loved both the traditional and seasonal flavors featured in the brand’s product line.
  • CHKP: CHKP’s mission is to create non-dairy products so delicious that customers in its hometown of Brooklyn, New York, can choose them for all the right reasons – amazing taste and joyful indulgence. The Northeast Region loved that the chickpea is the hero ingredient in CHKP’s first line: a plant-based yogurt.
  • Coyotas: Selected by the Southern Pacific Region, Coyotas is a Mexican-American tortilla company based in San Diego, led by co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Janet Flores Pavlovich. Grain-free, gluten-free and made with limited ingredients, Coyotas seeks to dignify the Mexican tortilla and the skilled artisans who make them.
  • Good Girl Chocolate: Oklahoma City-based founder Dr. Tabatha Carr, ND, built Good Girl Chocolate while on a personal transformation and quest to live and love life. Selected by the Southwest Region, Good Girl Chocolate offers gluten- and soy-free bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar.
  • Numa: Numa founders Joyce Zhu and Jane Xie draw from their heritage to bring taffy and peanut candies inspired by traditional Asian recipes to market in Fallsington, Pennsylvania. Numa means daughter and mother in Chinese. The brand’s name represents the relationship between Joyce and Jane and honors their founding values ​​of family and heritage – another reason the Mid-Atlantic Region gravitated toward this brand.
  • Onana Foods: When Onana founder Deanna McCraw went gluten-free and plant-based, she saw the opportunity to develop a unique tortilla catering to those with dietary restrictions. She and her mother de ella tested recipes for two years before launching their plantain-based tortilla in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Region loved that the Onana Foods tortillas are made from limited ingredients like plantains, baking powder and sea salt.
  • Pizzazza: Bellingham, Washington-based Pizzazza got its start as a pizzeria with a focus on locally grown and produced ingredients. Pizzazza’s line of frozen pizzas comes to market with the same focus on local ingredients with the majority of the company’s total food spend being with local growers and producers. Owners Erica Lamson and Will Annett’s vision to nourish their community by providing delicious, locally sourced food in a fun and innovative environment resonated with the Pacific Northwest Region.
  • Tangles & Beyond: What started as a hobby for Tangles & Beyond founders Ashley and Julian Bates grew into a full-fledged business based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after their haircare products went viral on Instagram. From whipped shampoos formulated with rose kaolin clay to conditioners infused with sea buckthorn, the colorful and nourishing Tangles & Beyond line caught the eye of our Southeast Region.
  • THEO’s Plant Based: The Midwest Region selected THEO’s Plant Based because the company’s line of beet jerky supports farmers who prioritize soil health and brings a farm-to-table flair to the plant based jerky category. Chicago-based co-founders Theo Mourad and Aaron Brodkey’s vision is to help people eat more vegetables by creating innovative, chef-driven, vegetable-forward foods.
  • Vamigas: Selected by the Northern California Region, Vamigas is a skin-care brand made from Latin America botanicas by Latinas (Chile, Mexico). Alamo, California-based founders, Christina Kelmon and Ann Dunning, are on a mission to reclaim the cultural identities of Latin American ingredients, like rosehips, and educate everyone about the power of their ancestral beauty rituals.

“We are delighted to welcome 10 exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program,” said Will Betts, Vice President of Local Merchandising at Whole Foods Market. “We look forward to sharing valuable insights into marketing best practices, strategy and channel development to help expand the cohort members’ brands while preparing to introduce their products to Whole Foods Market shoppers. Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting small, local and emerging producers, and the Local and Emerging Accelerator Program enhances our ability to strengthen our relationships with local brands and elevate our product selection for communities across the country.”

Members of the initial cohort will participate in a 12-week curriculum taught by Whole Foods Market and other industry experts, undergo a yearlong mentorship with a Whole Foods Market Local Forager and have access to other growth-related supplier benefits. Brand participants who successfully complete the program will be eligible to receive a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market’s private operating Foundations.

About Whole Foods Market

For more than 40 years, Whole Foods Market has been the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As the first certified organic national grocer, Whole Foods Market has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. To learn more about Whole Foods Market, please visit https://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/.

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