Small Suppliers Are Tops at Whole Foods
Whole Foods Market honored the winners of its sixth annual Supplier Awards, spotlighting producers that exemplify the grocer’s mission and core values through commitment to quality, environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing and culinary innovation.
“Our shoppers look to Whole Foods Market for new and delicious products, and we are honored to recognize our top supplier partners who demonstrate industry-leading innovation and impactful work,” said president and chief operating officer A.C. Gallo. “These national and local suppliers were selected from thousands of driven, passionate, mission-based brands ... and represent the best in class in sourcing and commitment to the highest quality standards.”
A total of 27 perishable and non-perishable suppliers were recognized, including two all-star global “Supplier of the Year” recipients and 11 local supplier partners who received region-specific recognition for outstanding partnership and product innovation within local communities.
This year’s list includes brands that have partnered with Whole Foods anywhere from two to 25 years, and six that have expanded business through the support of the retailer's Local Producer Loan Program.
The winners were revealed at a reception held in Austin, Texas. Honorees in both perishable and non-perishable categories included:
Global Supplier of the Year
Pacha Soap Company: For pioneering experiential, natural bath and body care products and exceeding goals for growth by delivering an innovative assortment of products to Whole Foods shoppers.
Miller Poultry: For taking visionary approach to animal welfare and commitment to raising high quality, healthy chickens. The supplier has shown true innovation and growth with both its Non-GMO Project Verification and the purchase and remodeling of an outdated feed mill that not only expanded business but created jobs in the community.
Lotus Foods: For implementing a "More Crop Per Drop" system, allowing farmers to dramatically increase yields while decreasing water consumption, seed use and methane gas emissions. Lotus Foods’ B Corp certification is a testament to its commitment to serve as a force for good.
Blue Circle Foods and Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett: For leading the charge for sustainability in aquaculture. Through farm and feed partnerships, there has been a significant improvement in fish-in-fish-out ratios, which considers the use of fishmeal and fish oil in feeds and the amount of wild fish it takes to produce farmed fish.
Fage: For raising the bar in dairy quality standards by becoming the only large-scale Greek yogurt manufacturer with a Non-GMO Project Verified certification.
Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies: For its early interest in the non-GMO initiative and its committed follow-through in offering non-GMO frozen cookie doughs, scones, biscuits, and biscotti. It was first to market with a non-GMO cookie program, and all its offerings are on track to receive Non-GMO Project Verified certifications this year.
GimMe Health Foods: For offering a differentiated, certified organic seaweed product portfolio in the growing functional snacks category.
Coke Farm: For pioneering the organic produce industry and representing a diverse group of local fruit and vegetable growers across the U.S. and Canada. Coke Farm works with organic growers to develop growing plans and supports receiving, cooling, selling and shipping.
Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits: For sourcing award-winning wines and innovative, trending products from Spain, Chile, New Zealand, France and around the globe.
Ocean Hugger Foods: For creating and bringing Ahimi, a sashimi-grade vegan tuna product, to shoppers. The innovative product spurred Whole Foods' culinary experts to include “High Tech, Plant Forward” foods as a trend for 2018.
Golden Boy Foods: For its dedication to improving the quality and consistency of bulk products through modernizing plant production processes. Golden Boy Foods is continuously looking for ways to improve efficiency without sacrificing the high quality of the bulk food products it provides.
Rainier Fruit Company: For the rigorous standards it applies to both organic and conventional cherries, apples, pears and blueberries throughout the year.
Rookie of the Year
Kettle & Fire: For taking the burgeoning category of bone broths by storm with its grass-fed, organic line of traditional bone broths in sustainable biodegradable packaging.
Service and Partnership
Country Natural Beef: For a commitment to win-win partnerships at every level of business. Family ranchers from the Country Natural Beef co-op personally sample products to highlight impressive animal welfare standards, innovations in grain-finished pasture beef, goals for sustainability, as well as to create an open dialogue with consumers to learn how to better meet their needs.
Conlego: For playing an integral role in developing and building a sustainable blueprint for enhancing Whole Foods' private label supplier partnerships with improved internal processes and tools.
Kuli Kuli: For providing fair, sustainable wages to moringa farmers and women-led cooperatives around the world and growing a trusted supply chain.