AUSTIN, Texas (March 7, 2024) – Whole Foods Market opened the application process for its 2024 Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP) today, seeking 10 innovative food brands not yet sold in Whole Foods Market stores to join the program’s Early Growth cohort. Launched in 2022, LEAP advances Whole Foods Market’s core value of creating win-win partnerships and its longstanding support of local and emerging suppliers by creating mentorship opportunities for cohort participants with Whole Foods Market experts accompanied by months of tailored educational programming.

Selected participants for the Early Growth cohort will undergo a 12-week educational curriculum, and, once complete, will be considered for placement on the grocer’s shelves in their home city or area. They will also be eligible to be considered for a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market’s private operating Foundations.

“Whole Foods Market deeply values the connections to local and emerging brands, enriched by the LEAP program,” said Alyssa Vescio, Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Whole Foods Market. “By equipping emerging brands with the necessary tools, education, and access, we’re not just fostering their growth – we’re cultivating a dynamic platform for creativity, innovation, and positive change that resonates with our purpose to nourish people and the planet.”


In 2023, Whole Foods Market introduced a second LEAP cohort, On the Verge, to deepen relationships and foster growth with local and emerging suppliers currently carried in select Whole Foods Market stores. These brands demonstrate serious growth potential, have a finger on the pulse of trends, and align with Whole Foods Market’s values and priorities.

On the Verge participants have officially been selected for 2024 after being nominated by Whole Foods Market Merchants and Foragers. Selected suppliers include Dare Vegan Cheese, Evergreen, Funky Mello, Moku, Myles Comfort Food, Painterland Sisters, The Organic Pantry Co., Shar, Sinto Gourmet and Uncle Waithley’s.

“Our 2024 On the Verge cohort participants have truly impressed the Whole Foods Market team with their innovation, dedication and vision, and we’re thrilled to help them explore the next phase of their brand growth,” said Kelly Landrieu, Principal Planner for Local & Emerging Brands. “Mentoring these brands-to-watch is one of the most exciting and personal ways we can be hands-on with emerging producers and uplift them in our stores. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”


Jaju Pierogi, founded by two sisters using their grandfather’s Polish pierogi recipes, launched in select Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire and Rhode Island in December 2023 after completing the 2023 Early Growth LEAP Cohort.

“The LEAP program reinforced the foundation of our relationship with Whole Foods Market and gave us insider access to leaders in the CPG space and a great network of other emerging suppliers,” said Vanessa White, Co-Founder of Jaju Pierogi. “The relationship with Whole Foods Market feels like a real partnership – not just words on paper. We can be transparent about any questions, doubts or dilemmas we’re having with our Forager, and work through them together.”

Nguyen Coffee Supply, founded in 2018 by Sahra Nguyen, is America’s first specialty Vietnamese coffee company. Nguyen Coffee Supply launched nationally at Whole Foods Market after completing the inaugural LEAP On the Verge cohort in 2023.

“The LEAP organizers were so kind, thoughtful and caring. They listened to our concerns and it was apparent they designed the program to deliver real value to founders navigating retail and offered specific and tactical advice for us to leverage,” said Sahra Nguyen, Founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply. “Entering retail and executing on everything from inventory planning, route to market and promotional strategy can be very overwhelming for first time founders/brands. With LEAP, it felt like we were truly cared for and were provided a safe space to ask questions and accelerate our learning on everything from marketing to execution, as well as provided mentors and peers to support along the way.”

Brands seeking more information on the LEAP application process can visit the Information for Potential Suppliers page on Whole Foods Market’s website.


About Whole Foods Market

Founded in 1980, Austin-based Whole Foods Market is the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer and the first certified organic national grocer in the United States. Part of Amazon’s Worldwide Grocery Stores, Whole Foods Market serves customers in more than 530 stores across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. To learn more about Whole Foods Market, please visit

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