AUSTIN, Texas (January 21, 2003) Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) is pleased to announce that Team Members have once again ranked their company as one of Fortune magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For.” The world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket earned its highest ranking this year, coming in at number 32, and is one of only 25 companies to consecutively make the list since its inception six years ago. Fortune cited the company's aggressive growth, egalitarian streak, and practice of open-book and open-door policies among the reasons for its ranking. Whole Foods Market is the only national supermarket retailer included on the list.

“We believe that by creating and providing empowering and fulfilling work environments, we can make our goal of team member happiness and excellence a reality,” said John Mackey, CEO, president and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. “We would like to congratulate all of our smart, dedicated and hugely talented team members for achieving this honor and thank them for driving our success over the past twenty-two years.”

Despite the rough economy, rife with cuts and layoffs, the Whole Foods Market team member base grew nearly 13 percent over last year to more than 24,000. The company delivered excellent top and bottom line growth and opened 11 new stores during the fiscal year including the company's first international location in Toronto, Canada.

“I was proud to hear about the Fortune ranking because I really feel like we're a part of making the world a better place,” states Nantz Jones, a team member from the 6th and Lamar Street location in Austin. “When I joined the company 17 years ago, we only had four stores. I have always loved – as a customer and now as a Team Member – the camaraderie, support for others, and progressive atmosphere at Whole Foods Market.”

Employees play an important role in determining the Fortune “100 Best” list. Candidate companies complete a questionnaire describing their human resources policies and workplace culture, and a random sample of employees are surveyed for opinions about their workplaces. In scoring the responses, the greatest weight is placed on the employee responses (two-thirds of the total), with the remainder being Fortune's evaluation of the company's benefits and practices.

“Whole Foods Market's culture was founded on shared fate, fairness in the workplace, open communication and team member excellence and happiness,” said Cindy Bradley, vice president of human resources and team member services. “The collective energy and support of our friends and family here has helped drive our success over the past two decades. Their response to the Fortune survey reiterates their passion for working in an environment of self empowerment where they can flourish and reach their highest potential.”

A different sort of benefit and compensation program sets Whole Foods Market apart and makes it a great place to work. There is no hierarchy when it comes to benefits as all are covered equally. Additionally, a host of policies designed to meet the diverse needs of a diverse group of people support the company's unique “Declaration of Interdependence,” which spurs the company to strive for excellence while creating a better person, company and world.