AUSTIN, Texas (January 24, 2002) Fortune magazine released this week that Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) was placed among the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” again this year for the fifth consecutive year. Whole Foods Market was one of only 28 companies to make the list all five years in a row since the list's inception.

Fortune ranked Whole Foods Market number 48 on their list this year recognizing the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket for its very successful gain-sharing program giving employees (called team members) the opportunity to share in their team's savings. Also, all team members are eligible for stock options allowing them to enjoy last year's 2-for-1 stock split and the stock price trading at record highs during the year.

“As an employer of choice with over 23,000 team members, it is an honor to be recognized again this year by Fortune as one of the best places for our family of team members to work.” President and CEO John Mackey said. “This ranking encourages us to continue being a company of 'heart and soul' that seeks to constantly create a better workplace, a better customer experience and a better world.”

Despite the times of cuts and layoffs, the Whole Foods team member base grew over 28 percent from 17,985 at the release of last year's Fortune ranking to over 23,000 currently. The company delivered excellent top and bottom line growth and opened 12 news stores during the fiscal year increasing gross square footage of 13 percent.

The application process for inclusion in the Fortune line up was an arduous one. Two thirds of the selection criteria is based on information received from employees through an anonymous survey developed and administered by the Great Places to Work Institute. The remaining one third is based upon information provided by the company areas such as job growth, turnover, wage and benefit programs and unique employee programs. This year, Whole Foods Market not only provided Fortune the required information, but also prepared a booklet highlighting our team-based culture and empowering work environment that included stories from team members from around the nation.

“What makes us unique, and consequently a great place to work, is a company that promotes self-responsibility and empowerment,” said Cindy Bradley, Vice President of Human Resources and Team Member Services. “Team members who love to take initiative while enjoying working as part of a team and being rewarded through shared fate, thrive here.”

Fortune's ranking of Whole Foods Market on the same list for the past five years: 2002 — number 48 2001 — number 41 2000 — number 72 1999 — number 48 1998 — number 34