LOS ANGELES (June 6, 2013) – Whole Foods Market is inviting local producers to plant new roots with the company and learn about what it takes to be featured in the aisles of more than 13 stores in Whole Foods Market’s South Bay, Orange County and San Diego County areas. From June 11- 22, 2013, suppliers will have the opportunity to meet with Whole Foods Market’s team members — including local forager, Dwight Detter — and get an introduction to the company’s local program.

Whole Foods Market has been actively sourcing local products since opening its first store in 1980. As the company has grown, the local “forager” role was created to have specific individuals whose primary purpose is to source great products from the company’s local farms and artisans.

“At Whole Foods Market, bringing in local vendors isn’t just about stocking our shelves with something new or different,” said Dwight Detter, Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific region local forager. “It’s about the entire process — from building a relationship with our local suppliers, to providing them with the information and tools they need to get their products onto our shelves, and ultimately, helping them grow their businesses.”

The Waffle Lady, which makes organic pancake and waffle mixes, blossomed in Orange County with the support of Whole Foods Market’s local program. The Waffle Lady partnered up with the company in 2011 with mixes being sold in five Southern California Whole Foods Market stores. The brand has since grown to 40 stores across Southern California, Arizona and Las Vegas and is in many stores in Oregon and Washington as well.

Through Whole Foods Market’s local program, suppliers taking part in Local 101 will be given an overview of the program and will learn about standards, regulations, and how to get on Whole Foods Market’s shelves. In Local 102, Whole Foods Market provides a quick look at starting a business plan. Local 103 dives a bit deeper, and includes information on marketing, merchandizing, promoting, pricing and packaging products. The final session in the program is Local 104, which shows suppliers how to take a product to a regional level and beyond. Local products such as Anne’s Kombucha from La Jolla, Eben Haezer Poultry Ranch organic pastured eggs from Ramona, and Hoopers Pickles fresh packed pickles from Yerba Buena each emerged from this program.

In addition to the local program, Whole Foods Market supports suppliers through its Local Producer Loan Program, which grants low-interest loans to help budding businesses expand. Guerilla Beekeepers, based in Orange County and San Diego County, was a loan recipient in 2012 and is utilizing its low-interest loan to increase its production of treatment-free honey and create all-natural body care products.

Local producers can meet Detter and Whole Foods Market team members and learn more about the company’s local program on the following dates and locations:
• June 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Forager Meet and Greet
Whole foods Market Plaza El Segundo
760 South Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo, CA 90245

• June 17, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Forager Meet and Greet
Whole Foods Market Torrance
2655 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance, CA 90505

• June 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Forager Meet and Greet
Whole Foods Market Jamboree
2847 Park Ave., Tustin, CA 92782

• June 18, 6:30-8 p.m. – Local 102
Whole Foods Market Huntington Beach
7881 Edinger Ave., Suite 150, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

• June 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Forager Meet and Greet
Whole Foods Market La Jolla
8825 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

• June 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Forager Meet and Greet
Whole Foods Market Redondo Beach
405 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

• June 22, 9-11 a.m. – Local 101
Whole Foods Market Del Mar
2600 Via De La Valle, Suite 100, Del Mar, CA 92014

“As a result of the local program, shoppers can now find more than 200 local items in every department throughout our South Bay, Orange County and San Diego County stores,” said Maria Mugica, Whole Foods Market marketing field associate. “We are thrilled to be celebrating local forager month this year by inviting local artisans to come out and learn more about our program and become a part of our mission to provide the highest quality all natural and organic foods and products available to our shoppers.”

To view online video testimonials and to learn more about Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program, visit wholefoodsmarket.com/loans. For additional information about the local program, please visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/foraging-whole-foods-market.