ATLANTA, GA (June 8, 2011) –Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) South region (AL, GA, NC, SC, and TN) announces the newest low-interest loan to Georgia-based AtlantaFresh Creamery through the company’s Local Producer Loan Program. The loan is part of a company-wide initiative to provide up to $10 million in low-interest, long-term loans to small local producers throughout the U.S.

An extension of Whole Foods Market’s efforts to expand the availability of quality, local, differentiated products for customers, the Local Producer Loan Program supports the communities in which the company does business. This program also strengthens Whole Foods Market’s partnerships with local producers and therefore reinforces the value of environmental sustainability.

The loan program minimizes fees, interest rates and paperwork for independent local producers.  Like all Whole Foods Market vendors, loan recipients must meet the company’s strict standards for quality and taste, which means products must be free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives and hydrogenated fats.

AtlantaFresh, located in Norcross, Georgia, makes a variety of hand-crafted, small batch greek-style yogurts with unique flavors like peach ginger and tropical sweet heat, with mango, pineapple and habanero pepper.  They use milk from local dairy, Johnston Family Farms and make all of the fresh fruit flavors in house. AtlantaFresh is also venturing into cheese production and a few other experimental dairy products.

 “We’re very excited about what this loan means for our business expansion,” said Ron Marks, Big Cheese of AtlantaFresh. “We started in December of 2009 selling to two Whole Foods stores in Atlanta, and now we are on the shelves in all seven Georgia stores. We are making a number of upgrades to our creamery which will allow us to be more efficient without changing the small-batch process, while also allowing us to get a federal license from the Department of Agriculture so we can eventually sell our products nationwide.”

“We are really thrilled to be able to work with AtlantaFresh and to offer them this opportunity to grow their business,” said Stephen Corradini, South Region VP of Purchasing for Whole Foods Market. “The Local Producer Loan Program provides avenues for producers like them to expand their businesses making them more successful and opening doors for continued growth in the future.”

To date, Whole Foods Market has provided more than $4 million in loans to local producers. This is the eighth loan for the South region and the fourth in the state. In Georgia, past loan recipients include Sweetwater Growers, Via Elisa, and White Oak Pastures. For more information, visit: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/values/local-producer-loan-program.php