AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 19, 2015) – Whole Foods Market ranks No. 18 on FORTUNE magazine’s 2015 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list. The company is again named as the most reputable company in the food and drug store industry, topping the list of retailers in the category.

“The supermarket chain has redefined grocery shopping in the U.S., becoming a stage for artisanal food companies trying to break into the national market,” the magazine reported. “Whole Foods even offers loans to some of those entrepreneurs.”

Whole Foods Market ranked first in its category in innovation, people management, social responsibility, quality of management, and quality of products and services. Whole Foods Market is the only company headquartered in Austin, Texas, to make the list, and is one of four Texas-based companies recognized.

Continuing on its growth trajectory, Whole Foods Market opened two stores yesterday, bringing its total store count to 409. The company opened its Upper East Side store in New York, and its Bowman store located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Both stores feature amenities customized to their locations and offer wide selections of locally sourced products. The company is expected to cross the 500-store mark in 2017, and has set a long-term goal of 1,200 stores in the United States.

The list and related stories appear in the March 1 issue of FORTUNE, available on newsstands beginning Feb. 23. It can be viewed online now at http://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/.

METHODOLOGY
The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group started with approximately 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000 – the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue; non-U.S. companies in Fortune’s Global 500 database with revenues of $10 billion or more. Hay then selected the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry, surveying a total of 668 companies from 29 countries. To create the 55 industry lists, Hay asked executives, directors and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey to be listed.

To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, the Hay Group asked 4,104 executives, directors, and securities analysts who had responded to the industry surveys to select the ten companies they admired most. They chose from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year’s surveys, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry. The difference in the voting rolls is why some results can seem anomalous. For example, Southwest Airlines ranks No. 7 on the overall Most Admired list, far ahead of No. 39 Delta Air Lines. But within the airline category, based on experts’ responses, Delta Air Lines leads the ranking for the third consecutive year, and Southwest Airlines missed the Most Admired cut by ranking in the bottom half of the industry.
For more on FORTUNE magazine’s Most Admired list and methodology, visit http://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/.