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Whole Foods Market Accepting Applications For LEAP Program

Whole Foods Market Local Leap

Whole Foods Market opened the application process for its 2024 Local and Emerging Accelerator Program, seeking 10 food brands not yet sold in Whole Foods Market stores to join the program’s Early Growth cohort.

Launched in 2022, LEAP advances Whole Foods Market’s core value of supporting local and emerging suppliers by creating mentorship opportunities for cohort participants with Whole Foods Market experts, accompanied by months of educational programming.

Selected participants for the Early Growth cohort will undergo a 12-week educational curriculum and, once complete will be considered for placement on the grocer’s shelves in their home city or area. They will also be eligible to be considered for a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market’s private operating foundations.

“Whole Foods Market deeply values the connections to local and emerging brands, enriched by the LEAP program,” said Alyssa Vescio, SVP of merchandising.

“By equipping emerging brands with the necessary tools, education and access, we’re not just fostering their growth – we’re cultivating a dynamic platform for creativity, innovation and positive change that resonates with our purpose to nourish people and the planet.”

2024 cohort

In 2023, Whole Foods Market introduced a second LEAP cohort, On the Verge, to deepen relationships and foster growth with local and emerging suppliers carried in select Whole Foods Market stores. These brands showcase growth potential, have a finger on the pulse of trends and align with Whole Foods Market’s values and priorities.

On the Verge participants have been selected for 2024 after being nominated by Whole Foods Market merchants and foragers. Selected suppliers include Dare Vegan Cheese, Evergreen, Funky Mello, Moku, Myles Comfort Food, Painterland Sisters, The Organic Pantry Co., Shar, Sinto Gourmet and Uncle Waithley’s.

“Our 2024 On the Verge cohort participants have truly impressed the Whole Foods Market team with their innovation, dedication and vision, and we’re thrilled to help them explore the next phase of their brand growth,” said Kelly Landrieu, principal planner for local and emerging brands.

“Mentoring these brands-to-watch is one of the most exciting and personal ways we can be hands-on with emerging producers and uplift them in our stores. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

Brands seeking more information on the LEAP application process can visit the Information for Potential Suppliers page on Whole Foods Market’s website.

About Whole Foods Market

Founded in 1980, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market is a leading natural and organic foods retailer and the first certified organic national grocer in the U.S. Part of Amazon’s Worldwide Grocery Stores, Whole Foods Market serves customers in more than 530 stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

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Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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