AUSTIN, Texas (June 7, 2004) Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI) is excited to announce the season's first catch of fresh, wild Alaska Coho and Sockeye salmon available in stores now and encourages seafood lovers to catch it while you can! To ensure top quality and flown-in freshness, the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket brings shoppers fresh, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified wild Alaska salmon from its very own facility located just yards from the clear, icy waters of Monti Bay in Yakutat.

“We have taken our commitment to quality, traceability and the environment one step further by partnering with an isolated fishing village in the pristine lowlands along the Gulf of Alaska. Not only do we get the highest quality fish at the most competitive prices, we also process the freshest catches right at the water's edge and ship our product immediately to our stores,” said Whole Foods Market's National Seafood Buyer, Dick Jones.

The record speed from shore to shopping cart gives Whole Foods Market customers that fresh-caught, distinctive flavor while preserving the fish's firm texture and rich color. “Other people sell Alaskan fish, but it is not of the quality that we offer because no other grocer has the supply lines that we have,” added Jones. “To continue delivering world class seafood, we set up proprietary sourcing of fresh seafood to ensure the best supply for customers.”

Whole Foods Market's fresh and wild Alaska salmon not only provides fantastic flavor but also gives seafood lovers the peace of mind that they are making the best environmental choice. Salmon from Yakutat is deemed sustainable by the MSC, meaning it was fished using practices that ensure the ecological health of the ocean and the abundance of marine life for generations to come.

With a population of 833 people (400 in the winter months), Yakutat, which means “the place where the canoes rest,” maintains a traditional, native Tlingit culture. Situated near two enormous glaciers on the pristine Situk River with dense old-growth forests and black sand beaches, the Yakutat economy largely depends on fishing. During the height of the summer wild Alaska salmon season, Yakutat is expected to supply Whole Foods Market stores with more than six million pounds of MSC certified Sockeye and Coho salmon.

Last year was the first year Whole Foods Market began buying much of the fish from Yakutat. “Whole Foods Market will provide economic stability to our fishing community that will allow it to continue,” said Steve Henry, Yakutat city and borough manager. “This partnership employs locals at the processing plant and guarantees a market for the fisherman-a positive, long-term relationship that the community is looking forward to.”

Whole Foods Market signed a five-year lease with the city of Yakutat, which has owned and re-equipped the former North Pacific Processing Plant. Whole Foods Market plans to hire locally to fill the approximately 60 jobs that will soon be available.

“Our relationship with Yakutat supports the way of life of those who live there, while contributing to Whole Foods Market's core values of community citizenship, sustainable agriculture, and wise environmental practices,” said Whole Foods Market's Select Fish Facility Team Leader Scott Barton.

In addition to the Yakutat fishery, Whole Foods Market is the only supermarket to own and operate three of its own seafood processing and distribution facilities-Select Fish (Pacific Northwest), Pigeon Cove (Northeast), and South Seafood Distribution Facility (Southeast) to deliver to customers the highest quality seafood with the quickest turnaround.

Whole Foods Market has been a supporter of the MSC since its inception and was the first retailer in the United States to secure MSC labeling for its salmon. For the fourth year in a row, Whole Foods Market is partnering with the MSC, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) to highlight MSC certified wild Alaska salmon and other sustainable seafood options during its “Fish for Our Future®” promotion June 15 through July 15. The MSC's distinctive blue and white seal of approval gives consumers a quick and easy way to identify seafood that has not been overfished or caught in ways that are harmful to the marine environment.

Whole Foods Market shoppers should continue to check the seafood departments throughout the summer for an exciting array of new, delicious MSC-labeled seafood such as cold- and hot-smoked salmon, salmon burgers, and fish sticks.

NOTE: For exquisite salmon recipes, photos or B-roll of salmon (fishing, harvesting or prepared) or to set up interviews, please contact Ashley Hawkins.