- Whole Foods Market announced Monday the first 10 brands to participate in its Local and Emerging Accelerator Program, which provides small companies with mentorship, education and the possibility of gaining shelf placement in their city’s Whole Food Market stores.
- These 10 initial brands will partake in an expert-lead curriculum and mentorship program, and will be eligible for $25,000 in financial support.
- Whole Foods Market has introduced this program as more big-name grocers lend their resources to local businesses and suppliers.
Whole Foods Market began accepting applications on March 1 for its Local and Emerging Accelerator Program. The 10 brands in the initial cohort will take part in a 12-week curriculum led by Whole Foods Market and other industry experts and have a yearlong mentorship with a Whole Foods Market Local Forager.
Participants who successfully complete the program will also be eligible for a $25,000 equity investment managed by the Austin Community Foundation donor-advised fund.
Among the selected brands are Buns Bakery, an Israeli-Jewish bakery based in Providence, Rhode Island; Numa, a traditional Asian candy brand located in Fallsington, Pennsylvania; and Tangles & Beyond, a hair care company based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, showing a range of product type and diversity among the local suppliers.
Whole Foods Market sees this new program as the perfect example of their “win-win partnership” core value.
The program comes at a time when many grocers are striving to not only introduce locally sourced products to their larger customer base, but also provide tools and knowledge to local partners and neighbors.
In May, Kroger announced the second year of its Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator program. The competition-style program includes 30 finalists that will receive exclusive time and education with industry experts before five winners are eventually selected. These winners then receive product placement in Kroger stores along with business development coaching.
DoorDash also launched its own accelerator program in May that shares a similar format to Whole Food Market’s. Over six weeks, selected brands are provided education and resources before having the opportunity to sell their goods via DoorDash’s virtual convenience-store brand, DashMart. The goal is to increase supplier diversity, according to the company.
Whole Foods Market added 500 new local brands to its supplier roster in 2021 as well as 6,500 new local items to store shelves, according to Monday’s announcement.
“Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting small, local and emerging producers,” Will Betts, vice president of local merchandising at Whole Foods Market, said in the announcement, “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.”