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Whole Foods, Baldor Develop Specialty Ingredients Kiosk

Whole Foods Market’s Whole Foods Northeast division and Baldor Specialty Foods have partnered to introduce The Baldor Forager, an in-store digital kiosk that allows consumers to purchase unique culinary items previously available only to professional chefs, at the retailer’s new store in the Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood of Williamsburg, set to open July 26.

According to Whole Foods, the kiosk is “tailor-made for an era when retailers must compete for the business of an increasingly sophisticated customer.” Despite consumers’ surging interest in them, specialty ingredients are rarely available through brick-and-mortar retailers. The inaccessibility of these items is reflected in results listings from online search engines, where two of the terms most commonly associated with a wide array of specialty ingredients are “where to buy” and “substitute.”

The Baldor Forager will address the growing demand for wild mushrooms, heirloom produce and other items that once were the secret of the New York metro area’s top chefs. Its digital interface will encourage exploration, discovery and a retail experience focused on customization. Shoppers will be able to place their orders conveniently at the kiosk and return for in-store pickup in a day or two, on average.

Baldor will curate items, based on uniqueness, seasonality and popularity, with such celebrated local restaurants as Estela and Daniel. At launch, offerings will include fresh, water-grown wasabi root; white strawberries; and an unusual variety of lavender-hued mushroom from France called a Bluefoot.

“High-quality specialty produce has always been the core of our business,” Baldor CEO T.J. Murphy noted. “We're really passionate about the items available through The Baldor Forager, and can't wait to share them with a new audience."

Added Tony Rajaram, Whole Foods Northeast produce coordinator: "At Whole Foods Markets, we're all about constantly improving the customer experience. We know our customers want to try new, special and exotic ingredients; however, it has been a challenge for us to stock fresh, unique produce items that are very fragile and have a short shelf life. Now, our customers have the ability to order these items and have it delivered to the store, retaining the integrity of the product. The Forager is going to let us accomplish this simply and efficiently through our in-store kiosk."

Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market operates more than 435 stores in 42 U.S. states, Canada and the United Kingdom, and employs more than 85,000 associates.

New York City-based Baldor Specialty Foods imports and distributes fresh produce and specialty foods in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

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