Whole Foods Market has announced the winners of its eighth annual Supplier Awards, honoring 32 of the company’s suppliers for their outstanding achievements in 2019 and ongoing commitments to quality, environmental stewardship, organic integrity, innovation, purpose and partnership. This year’s honorees include local, regional and national brands across all product categories. The winners were named at a reception held in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 18.
“We’re honored to work with and celebrate the remarkable contributions of these suppliers that embody Whole Foods Market’s core values and consistently raise the bar in our industry,” said Don Clark, Senior Vice President of Non-Perishables Merchandising at Whole Foods Market. “Their dedication to excellence, quality, innovation and partnership is critical to our success and delivering on our mission to nourish people and the planet.”
Whole Foods Market awarded three national suppliers, those available in four or more Whole Foods Market regions, and eleven local and regional partners with “Supplier of the Year” recognition and honored others for their contributions in categories aligned with Whole Foods Market’s mission and core values. The honorees were selected by Whole Foods Market global and regional leadership, category experts and buyers who work closely with our suppliers every day.
This year’s award recipients include:
National Suppliers of the Year
National Supplier of the Year and Special Recognition
Agritalia: for its dedication to operational excellence, extraordinary service and premium quality. As the leader in exporting Italian food products and a Whole Foods Market Exclusive Brands supplier since 1997, Agritalia continues to provide best-in-class service and quality through our expansive portfolio of Italian goods under our trusted 365 and Whole Foods Market branded products.
National Supplier of the Year and Organic Commitment
duBreton: for its longstanding, steadfast commitment to animal welfare, organic farming and continuously improving the standards of natural and organic pork production. For more than 15 years, duBreton has been exploring and improving various models of raising pigs in accordance with a variety of criteria across multiple animal welfare programs including Global Animal Partnership and Certified Humane. In 2019, duBreton was recognized by the Canada Organic Trade Association as the 2019 Organic Champion for its efforts in becoming the leader of organic pork production in North America. In 2018, DuBreton completed the transformation of all its partner pork farms to comply with both USDA and Canadian Organic Standards, which was the culmination of 3 years of work to convert 90 facilities to align with these standards. Look for duBreton sausage, ribs, bacon and other pork products in many Whole Foods Market stores.
National Culinary Supplier of the Year
Diestel Family Ranch: for uncompromising dedication to quality, transparency, the environment and high culinary standards. An incredible partner since the mid-1980s with the opening of our Palo Alto store, Diestel has grown to serve our stores nationwide with a variety of natural and organic turkeys, deli meats, grinds, sausages and more. In addition, the team continuously innovates to meet Whole Foods Market’s evolving culinary needs. Diestel’s culinary and operational excellence, combined with the team’s outstanding professionalism and service, resulted in the flawless, nationwide launch of our Whole Smoked Turkey and Turkey Breast lines for Thanksgiving 2019.
Ancient Nutrition: for creating industry-changing supplement formulations in the health and wellness space and partnering with Whole Foods Market to develop 40 first-to-market exclusive products in 2019. Given its unprecedented innovation, the company worked to anticipate sales growth and support inventory needs without compromising quality or service, while also developing a new approach to team member training to increase understanding of its products. Ancient Nutrition makes it easy to partner to grow the brand and the category, while delivering on its mission to provide nutrients to the modern world in a convenient form.
Braga Fresh Family Farms: for providing fresh, high-quality produce and offering excellent service. Farming from the Salinas Valley to Yuma, Ariz., for three generations, Braga Fresh quickly became a key supplier for Whole Foods Market in the wet vegetable category, collaborating with us to refine its offerings and demonstrating consistent engagement and commitment to partnership.
Pacifico Aquaculture: for always striving to provide a high-quality protein for all consumers to enjoy, while practicing and advancing stewardship of the land and ocean. Founded on the goal of creating the world’s only true ocean-raised striped bass, Pacifico Aquaculture fish are grown off the coast of Mexico in the pristine marine sanctuary of Isla Todos Santos, Ensenada, Baja California. Over the last three years, the Pacifico Aquaculture team worked diligently to raise fish that adhere to Whole Foods Market’s Farm-Raised Seafood Standards. The team also worked hard to improve supply chain efficiency, giving us the opportunity to provide more customers with access to their striped bass through expanded distribution across the country.
Brett Anthony Foods: for consistently delivering high-quality, fresh prepared food offerings under quick turnaround times. As a long-time partner starting in Whole Foods Market’s Midwest region, Brett Anthony Foods recently expanded to support an additional four regions, making it a go-to national partner for seasonal product support, including on key holiday items.
Bridor: for its continued partnership in providing our bakeries with premium offerings, as well as successfully executing the launch of Whole Foods Market’s first national croissant program in 2019. While the launch presented various challenges, the Bridor team stayed nimble and focused on working together to find solutions.
Raising the Bar for Quality
LesserEvil: for raising the bar for quality in the snack category through its thoughtful selection of ingredients and innovative production methods. LesserEvil continues to be a key innovation partner for Whole Foods Market, introducing products that feature ingredients not commonly found in the snacking aisle such as organic cassava flour, organic sweet potato flour, certified humane egg white powder and organic avocado oil, as well as partnering on various items exclusive to Whole Foods Market. Over the past two years, we introduced LesserEvil Organic Paleo Puffs and Grain-Free Egg White Curls, which have been incredible additions to the company’s air-popped popcorns that have steadily driven growth for the popcorn category. Additionally, the company moved all of its packaged snacks to biodegradable packaging in 2019, a huge step towards creating a more sustainable future for packaged goods.
Icicle Seafoods, Inc.: for its leadership in improving the quality of sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay by introducing refrigerated sea water on vessels, bruise reduction deck mats and icing incentives for fisherman. Working closely with Whole Foods Market’s purchasing team, Icicle Seafoods has dedicated an enormous amount of time, effort and personnel to launch new programs to ensure our customers have access to high-quality fresh and frozen sockeye.
The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm: for continued partnership on exclusive products and creating unique, flavorful cheese varieties for customers to enjoy. Located in Greensboro, Vt., Jasper Hill offers a Bayley Hazen Blue cheese that was honored with the Reserve Supreme Champion award at the International Cheese Awards in 2019, making it the first American cheese to ever win the award.
Suntreat (Parent Company; AC Foods): for its commitment to selling the highest quality citrus and practicing a win-win partnership. Notably, Suntreat worked with Whole Foods Market to create a remarkable retail program for the widely popular Sumo Citrus variety since it was first launched. Suntreat is also a trusted supplier of a number of other conventional and organic citrus varieties.
Rogue Creamery: for its unwavering commitment to bringing high quality, organic dairy to market. Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue was awarded the highest honor at the 2019 World Cheese Awards, the first American cheese to ever win the prestigious award. In addition to being a USDA-certified organic dairy, Rogue Creamery shares many of Whole Foods Market’s core values, integrating environmental health, animal welfare, and social and economic equity into its practices.
Purpose Driven Empowerment
Simple Mills: for an unwavering commitment to quality and sourcing ingredients from mission-driven suppliers that are focused on a range of important issues such as reducing food waste and empowering local communities. For example, the brand’s coconut sugar supplier is woman-owned with a majority female workforce and commitments to fair wages and creating opportunities for farmers and their families. The company’s cocoa supplier operates a nonprofit dedicated to improving the livelihood of cocoa farmers through sustainable, entrepreneurial farming. Additionally, Simple Mills constantly offers fresh, innovative ideas, always finding new ways to satisfy and delight our customers. Since Simple Mills started selling grain-free baking mixes in our Ponce de Leon store in 2013, the brand has grown into a major powerhouse across four categories – crackers and crispbreads, baking mixes, ingredients and flours, cookies and wholesome bars.
Fair Trade USA: for its tireless efforts to improve working conditions and the environment. As one of the third-party certifiers of Whole Foods Market’s Whole Trade® Guarantee program, Fair Trade USA is critical to ensuring that Whole Foods Market offers products that support ethical trade, working conditions and the environment.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.: for its proven commitment to environmental stewardship, evidenced by how the company operates and creates its products. In 2018, Sierra Nevada partnered with more than 1,400 craft breweries across the U.S. to release Resilience IPA, with 100% of the sales going towards relief for the Paradise, Calif., fire of 2018. The company has also worked with Whole Foods Market to develop a plan to use more renewable energy, increase water reuse and expand composting of spend grains in the production of its beer.
Capra Lamb: for advancing environmental stewardship in the production of lamb, with constant consideration for nurturing the land, their sheep, and the ranching families who care for the animals. A collective of more than 120 lamb ranches in Central Texas, Capra Lamb provides only verified all-natural Dorper lamb, the most premium lamb meat available, with a mild, delicate flavor profile. Recently, Capra Lamb started working with a soil health and regenerative agriculture consultant to begin implementing regenerative grazing principles on its ranches, helping to create a more positive environmental impact, as well as better quality and more nutrient dense lamb for consumers.
Service & Partnership
ShiKai: for demonstrating best-in-class partnership through the successful launch of topical CBD products at Whole Foods Market. ShiKai’s service and support has been invaluable as Whole Foods Market has expanded the availability of topical CBD products across the U.S. In addition to offering great products that meet Whole Foods Market’s rigorous quality standards, the ShiKai team provided industry expertise, in-depth training for teams, and moved quickly to bring products to our shelves.
Del Rey Avocado Company: for exceptional partnership and attention to service, which have made the company a top avocado supplier. In addition to always being readily available and providing transparency, the Del Rey team is committed to high quality and social responsibility by creating economically viable business relationships, utilizing technologies that minimize waste, and practicing environmentally sound agricultural practices in growing their avocadoes.
Rookie of the Year
Yellowbird Foods: for its strong performance and commitment to local and organic farming. Yellowbird differentiated itself by developing a line of hot sauces that only uses organic and sustainable ingredients sourced from small, organic farmers. Starting as a local supplier in Whole Foods Market’s Southwest region, Yellowbird grew to a national supplier after its proven success in one region and the team’s passion to continue raising the bar in the condiments category. Yellowbird launched three hot sauce flavors exclusive to Whole Foods Market and will be introducing new products in our stores in the future.
Inverawe Smokehouse: for working tirelessly to bring smoky, full-bodied, flavorful salmon with a silky texture to our customers. Partnering with Whole Foods Market on an exclusive launch of the brand in the U.S. in 2018, Inverawe quickly ramped up production to meet customer demand. A family run smoked fish company that began in 1974 in Taynuilt, Scotland, Inverawe carries on the traditional way of smoking fish, using Scottish hardwood, old-world skills and methods.
Local and Regional Suppliers of the Year
Norman Love Confections: for creating beautiful, handcrafted chocolates and desserts with an emphasis on artistry, premium ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. The company shares Whole Foods Market’s commitment to quality, creativity and excellence and even developed a naturally colored chocolate truffle line to meet Whole Foods Market’s quality standards. With its first debut in a Whole Foods Market store in Naples in 2017, Norman Love chocolates are now sold in 22 stores in the Florida region.
Blue Ridge Bucha: for its leadership in sustainable business practices and partnering with Whole Foods Market at every turn – through new store openings, team member events, promotions, demos and new and exclusive items. Blue Ridge Bucha handcrafts delicious, refreshing kombucha made from Blue Ridge Mountain water and Certified Organic and Fair Trade ingredients. After launching in our Charlottesville, Va., store in 2012, Blue Ridge Bucha is now carried throughout Whole Foods Market’s Mid-Atlantic region, offering kombucha on-tap and in ready to drink refillable bottles, which helps reduce waste.
Little Pot Soup: for bringing fresh, flavorful soups to Detroit and throughout Michigan and the Midwest, with a staunch commitment to sourcing local ingredients, improving communities and caring for its employees. The company’s respect for its team members is evidenced by its hiring practices, competitive compensation and unusually high retention rates. Previously known as Russell Street Deli, the company launched its packaged soup line in 2013 as one of the first local suppliers of Whole Foods Market’s Midtown Detroit location and continues to expand to new locations.
North Atlantic Region
One Mighty Mill: for bringing back local, fresh milling to New England, returning to a sustainable, localized culture of milling grains, as well as supporting local farms, underserved communities and healthy eating. By securing Organic Wheat from Aurora Farms in Maine and building its own stone-grinding mill in Lynn, Mass., to make its products, One Mighty Mill started the revolution against processed flour. After only one year since the company’s launch, One Mighty Mill’s growth has been incredible. Look for One Mighty Mill packaged bagels and tortillas in our bakery departments, as well as fresh milled flour, pancake mix and bagged whole grain pretzels exclusive to Whole Foods Market on the shelves of our grocery aisles.
Northern California Region
Pozzi Ranch: for advancing animal welfare standards for lamb and using ranching practices that will help preserve the land and maintain the economic viability of our farms. As an early adopter of Global Animal Partnership’s animal welfare standards for lamb, Pozzi Ranch Lamb® is exclusively available at all Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California.
Café Grumpy: for working hand-in-hand with Whole Foods Market in multiple capacities to provide customers with access to great tasting, high-quality coffee. Whole Foods Market is proud to partner with Café Grumpy, a Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise committed to innovation, sustainability and community. Beyond being a successful wholesale coffee supplier to our specialty and grocery departments, Café Grumpy is also a “Friend of Whole Foods Market,” operating a coffee bar inside Whole Foods Market’s Weehawken store that opened in 2019.
Pacific Northwest Region
Ground Up PDX: for bringing healthy, delicious nut butters to market, while providing women overcoming adversity in the Portland, Ore., area with job training opportunities to help them get back on their feet. Founded in April 2016, Ground Up is a women-owned company that continues to grow, introduce new flavors and make a remarkable impact on its community.
Rocky Mountain Region
Balance the Superfood Shot / Life Equals: for its dedication to quality, food safety, organic integrity, innovation and community. Handcrafted in Kansas City, Balance the Superfood Shot works tireless to improve the Standard American Diet by making it easy and convenient for consumers to get their daily fruit and vegetable servings. In addition to being USDA-certified organic and made from nutrient-dense ingredients, the shots also come in recyclable aluminum packaging, helping to reduce packaging waste. The team also shares Whole Foods Market’s dedication to local communities, as it volunteers each month with Cross-Lines, an organization on a mission to provide people in the Kansas City area affected by poverty with services and opportunities that encourage self-confidence, meet the needs of today and provide tools for future self-sufficiency.
King of Pops: for bringing mouthwatering, uniquely flavored ice pops made from simple, locally sourced ingredients to customers throughout the region. A Whole Foods Market partner since 2012, King of Pops is now available in all Whole Foods Market stores in the South region and continues to demonstrate impressive growth. The team is always eager to partner to surprise and delight customers. To celebrate the opening of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Midtown Atlanta store in April 2019, King of Pops partnered with us to launch an exclusive Peach Praline flavor to speak to the quintessential Southern palate. The company is also committed to building close, longstanding relationships with emerging brands and providing them with mentorship and support.
Southern Pacific Region
Hakuna Brands: for incredible partnership and leading innovation in our plant-based frozen dessert offerings through non-dairy banana and oat milk-based pints. A women-founded, owned and led company, Hakuna Brands not only creates delicious frozen treats that are all plant-based and free of refined sugars, the team is also always willing to partner with us to try something new to satisfy and delight our customers. Hakuna Brands worked with Whole Foods Market to develop Totes Oats, a simple oat milk-based frozen dessert, to provide customers in the Southern Pacific region with the first locally made oat-milk pints in the category.
Tacodeli: for its demonstrated commitment to its employees, community and collaboration while offering incredibly tasty, high-quality products. After launching its renowned salsas at Whole Foods Market in 2017, Tacodeli has grown tremendously, introducing new and exclusive products and achieving remarkable sales growth. With roots in Austin, Texas, Tacodeli also shares Whole Foods Market’s passion for supporting local communities by sourcing ingredients from more than 20 farmers, ranchers and fishermen in the state and partnering with local organizations. The Tacodeli team is always eager to collaborate with Whole Foods Market to bring customers high-quality, flavorful salsas, queso and other items with a mission that extends beyond food.
Source: Whole Foods Market