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08/01/2022

Whole Foods Market Reveals Inaugural Cohort for Local Accelerator Program

Products represented include tortillas, hair care and Asian-inspired candies
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
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Whole Foods LEAP
The Whole Foods Market LEAP initiative will help 10 small companies bring their products to store shelves.

Ten brands have been tapped to be part of Whole Foods Market’s first class of participants in its Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP). Those suppliers will receive mentorship, education and possible financial support to promote business growth.

The program encompasses a 12-week curriculum taught by Whole Foods and other industry experts, as well as a year-long mentorship with a Whole Foods Market Local Forager. The brands will also have access to growth-related supplier benefits, and participants that successfully complete the program will be eligible for a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation.

“We are delighted to welcome 10 exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program,” said Will Betts, VP of local merchandising at Whole Foods. “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,” Betts continued.

Among the brands participating in the inaugural LEAP program are Rhode Island-based Israeli Jewish bakery Buns Bakery, Mexican-American tortilla company Coyotas and Bellingham, Wash.-based Pizzazza, a pizzeria with a focus on locally grown and produced ingredients.

Other brands include Mississippi-based haircare company Tangles & Beyond, skincare brand Vamigas and chickpea-based, non-dairy product maker CHKP from Brooklyn, New York. 

The rest of the participants are:

  • Good Girl Chocolate, which  offers gluten- and soy-free bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar.
  • Numa, producer of taffy and peanut candies inspired by traditional Asian recipes. 
  • Onana Foods that creates tortillas made from limited ingredients like plantains, baking powder and sea salt.
  • THEO’s Plant Based, which creates chef-driven, vegetable-forward foods.

The first certified-organic national grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100,  Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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