PORTLAND, Ore. – Oct. 23, 2009 – Whole Foods Market®, a leader in natural and organic foods, today announced Portland-based Townshend’s Tea Company as the state’s first recipient of its Local Producer Loan Program.

With tea houses in Bend and Portland, Townshend’s Tea Company will receive funding for new equipment, a larger production facility and additional warehouse space in Portland, increasing the company’s production ability ten-fold.

“This is huge. We’re a small, independent company trying to make the best tea possible, and this loan makes all the difference in our continued growth,” said Matt Thomas, owner of Townshend’s Tea Company. “Since we started working with Whole Foods Market in 2008, we’ve observed time and time again how they work to support local businesses – this is just another example of how committed they are to helping Oregon companies.”

The loan from Whole Foods Market will specifically support Townshend’s line of Brew Dr. Kombucha bottled teas. Handcrafted in small batches with organic ingredients, Brew Dr. is available in four flavors: Nutritonic, Superberry, White Rose and Clear Mind.

Thomas sold his teas first into the Bend Whole Foods Market store, and now, all Oregon Whole Foods Market stores stock Townshend’s products. Eventually, the increased production capacity from the loan has the possibility to translate into wider distribution across the entire Pacific Northwest.

“Because we believe in local producers, we do as much as possible to support them. Knowing it’s not easy for small businesses to get credit these days, we encouraged Matt to apply for this loan so more people can experience Townshend’s tasty, nutritious kombucha,” said Bruce Silverman, Portland vice president for Whole Foods Market. “Whole Foods Market is constantly looking for ways to help make Oregon’s artisan producers more successful, and this was a great way to help.”

Local and independent farmers, producers and food artisans in Oregon are encouraged to apply for similar loans. Across the country, Whole Foods Market has provided more than $2.5 million in low-interest loans to local producers through the Local Producer Loan Program. Whole Foods Market launched the Local Producer Loan Program in early 2007 with a commitment to fund up to $10 million in low-interest loans. Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods Market’s quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 and have fixed low-interest rates.

To view online video testimonials and to learn more about the national Local Producer Loan Program, visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/values/local-producer-loan-program.php.

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