HONOLULU (Jan. 8, 2016) – Whole Foods Market Hawai‘i announces the winners of its third annual ‘ONO Awards, created to honor local companies and growers that embody Whole Foods Market’s mission and core values. The awards will be presented in a pau hana ceremony Sunday, Jan. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Maui Brewing Co. in Kihei. The event is open to the public; RSVP at onoawards.eventbrite.com.
“At Whole Foods Market Hawai‘i, we have access to an amazing variety of high quality local products; we celebrate where they come from, how they are made and the impact they have on the planet. The ‘ONO Awards honor the most exceptional of these local farmers, brewers, ranchers, innovators and producers,” said Roger Fawcett, associate coordinator of Hawai‘i purchasing at Whole Foods Market. “We appreciate the many team members, customers and community members who supported these local companies with their ‘ONO Award votes.”
While companies from throughout the islands were nominated, all of this year’s winners are based on Maui.
“The fact that we have a Maui sweep is a real testament to the thriving and exciting local food community there,” said Dabney Gough, metro marketing field team leader at Whole Foods Market’s Kāhala store.
The ‘ONO awards were established in 2012 by Gough as the first local program to recognize Hawai`i growers and producers. To be eligible, products must be grown or produced within the state and carried at Whole Foods Market Hawai`i locations. Categories include: People’s Choice, Team Member Pick of the Year, Innovation, Sustainability, Best New Product, Partner of the Year and Hall of Fame. The People’s Choice award was determined by a two-part nomination and final voting process, which took place via social media channels. Winners in the other categories were selected by the Whole Foods Market Hawai`i team.
“Selling our chili pepper water at Whole Foods Market and being a part of a company that supports local producers is such a blessing,” said Michelle Jones, partner at Two Chicks in a Hammock, winner of the People’s Choice award. “We are so grateful for our amazing customers and supporters, and to Whole Foods Market, for giving us a chance.”
Whole Foods Market has been actively sourcing local products since opening its first store in 1980. In Hawai‘i, Whole Foods Market currently partners with nearly 300 local farmers and producers. In 2015, the stores purchased nearly $12 million in agricultural and value-added products from local farmers and producers. The Hawai‘i team continually seeks additional local products and producers to grow the volume and variety of Hawai`i grown and made products available at Whole Foods Market’s three island stores, and in the company’s stores on the mainland.
People's Choice Award: Two Chicks in a Hammock, maker of Backyard Juice Chili Pepper Water
Selected by the Whole Foods Market online community, from nearly 3,000 nominations
Team Member Pick of the Year: Maui Breadfruit Company, maker of Pono Pies
Selected by Whole Foods Market Hawai‘i team members
Innovation Award: Hawaii Taro Company, maker of Maui Taro Burger
Selected for creativity in product, packaging, or business practices
Sustainability Award: Maui Breadfruit Company, maker of Pono Pies
Selected for practices that preserve the ‘aina, support our local economy, and promote food/product self-sufficiency
Best New Product: Maui Brewing Company Lorenzini Double IPA
Selected for best new product from previous year to date
Partner of the Year: Kumu Farms, grower of papayas, kale, and other produce items
Selected for exemplifying collaborative win-win partnerships outlined in Whole Foods Market’s core values
Hall of Fame: Yee’s Orchard, grower of legendary mangoes
Selected for being a long-standing producer who has made significant contributions to our local food economy