AUSTIN, Texas (January 6, 2004). Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket is proud to announce that its Team Members have rated their company as one of Fortune magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the seventh consecutive year. Ranked at number 47 this year, Fortune cited the company's PPO health coverage for both full- and part-time Team Members, the fact that 85 percent of the company's stock options are held by non-executives and the company's gainsharing plan that adds another 6 percent to wages, among the reasons for its ranking. Whole Foods Market is the only national supermarket retailer on the list and one of only 24 companies to make the list every year since its inception.

“My business philosophy since I began this company more than 23 years ago has focused on the fundamental importance of Team Member happiness. The job of the company's leadership is to empower Team Members and to help them learn, grow, and flourish,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market CEO, president, chairman, and co-founder. “Along with our great performance for 2003, making the Fortune list once again illustrates that our everyday aspirations to be one of the best companies in the country to work for go hand in hand with our business success and shareholder satisfaction.”

2003 was a particularly spectacular year at Whole Foods Market as it relates to Team Member inclusion and empowerment. In an unprecedented move, the company opened up all of the benefit options for a company-wide vote. Full-time and part-time Team Members were given the opportunity to vote on benefits ranging from health insurance to discounts on items purchased at Whole Foods Market stores. The innovative idea came to Mackey after touring the company's stores from coast to coast in the past year and listening to Team Member concerns and questions. Team Members were asked to share ideas about benefits they would like the company to offer and, through three subsequent votes, the benefit package was finalized, allowing each Team Member the unique opportunity to actively participate in the process. Whole Foods Market expects to repeat this benefits vote every three years.

“It is this sort of democracy in action that really sets Whole Foods Market apart and makes it a great place to work,” said Cindy Bradley, vice president of human resources and Team Member services. “This vote is a great example of how making information available to Team Members so they can make intelligent decisions in the workplace is one of the ways that we share power on a daily basis.”

For over 23 years, Whole Foods Market has worked hard to create an exciting, open work environment of self-empowerment where Team Members can excel and reach their highest potential. In 2003, Whole Foods Market was also one of the first companies in the United States to implement a progressive healthcare program that gives Team Members a monetary allowance prompting them to make the kinds of self-empowered healthcare decisions that directly impact their lives.