Whole Foods Market honors 2017 ‘Supplier Award’ winners

Whole Foods Market has revealed the winners of its annual Supplier Awards, the company’s highest honor for producer partners that embody its mission and values. Out of thousands of Whole Foods Market suppliers nationwide, fewer than 100 have received one of these distinguished awards.

Two all-star producers earned the grocer’s top “Supplier of the Year” award for outstanding performance. In addition to “Supplier of the Year” awards, Whole Foods Market recognized its top supplier partners in 16 categories that highlight areas of achievement, including product innovation, environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing and excellence in quality standards and assurance.

“Our Supplier Award winners set the gold standard for the industry, and we’re proud to celebrate their achievements,” said Don Clark, Whole Foods Market’s global vice president of procurement for non-perishables. “Each one of our supplier partners advances the character and flavor of our stores, whether they’re committed to sustainable farming methods or simply creating the best-tasting products.”

Several of this year’s winning suppliers highlight some of the food innovations and trends forecasted by Whole Foods Market buyers and experts for 2017.

The retailer revealed its Supplier Award winners at a reception held in Austin, Texas. Honorees included:

Supplier of the Year

Califia Farms, for positioning their brand at the forefront of innovation within plant based, dairy alternatives, as well as their passion for quality ingredients and environmental stewardship.

Supplier of the Year and Excellence in Product Quality

Rainier Fruit Company, for a strong partnership that continues to expand and evolve, and their investment in state of the art growing techniques and packing facilities ensures they provide consistent, high quality produce.

Best New Product

Siete Family Foods, Siete Tortilla Chips, for their commitment and partnership in launching a new product, and equal commitment to taste, quality and customer needs.

Excellence in Product Quality

Ittella Foods, for exceptional transparency, craftsmanship and commitment to both safety and quality. Itella exceeds performance goals in Whole Foods Market stores and remains at the forefront of culinary trends with their special diets comfort foods.

Environmental Stewardship

Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products Inc., for their commitment to the principles of Organics and Fair Trade in bringing mate to stores across the company.

Outstanding Exclusive Brands

Lassonde Pappas, for unparalleled food safety and product compliance, and robust quality assurance programs. Their research and development department is leveraged to develop high-quality innovative products.

Outstanding Innovation

Snak King Corporation, for their partnership with Whole Foods Market’s Exclusive Brands teams and innovation in the salty snack category.

Commodity Ingredients

Hampton Farms, for their partnership in supplying nuts and peanuts for Whole Foods Market’s in-store bulk nut butter program, and their support of small family farmers through their grower program.

Excellence in Cheese

Cowgirl Creamery, for their commitment to high quality natural and organic products. Their single source farmer’s partnership supports transparency, commitment to the organic mission of the company.

Outstanding Wine and Beer

Valkyerie Selections and Banshee Wines, for their commitment to working relationships with small sustainable family vineyard and winery owners both abroad and in the US in their pursuit of making world-class wines that deliver in both quality and value.

Dedication to Responsible Sourcing

Thistle Farms, for their mission to improve people’s lives through empowered employment. Makers of natural bath and body care products, Thistle Farms is a nonprofit organization where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage.

Outstanding Innovation

Pacha Soap, for their innovative and handcrafted froth bath bombs. Pacha enacts their mission through the set-up of soap shops, clean water initiatives and other sustainable ventures in developing nations.

Partnership

General Mills and their portfolio of natural brands for supporting multiple aspects of Whole Foods Market’s purchasing evolution including category management, space planning, marketing and training.

Excellence in Standards

Wholesum Harvest, for their commitment to organics, Fair Trade, sustainable and Responsibly Grown produce.

Outstanding Quality Assurance

Driscoll’s, for commitment to quality in each step of berry production and distribution, from the nursery to their network of independent growers, to their support of Whole Foods Market stores and shoppers.

Distinguished Service

The Oppenheimer Group (Oppy), for their partnership in developing key programs with Whole Foods Market and for their commitment to customer service, transparency and business planning that supports Whole Foods Market store produce companywide.

New Product Innovation

Beef Northwest, for developing a Global Animal Partnership Step 4 rated cattle program with corn on pasture finishing. Their program enhances the animal welfare and health of the cattle and is now offered in nine Whole Foods Market regions.

Product with a Purpose

Heritage Foods, for their highly differentiated natural pork products. Heritage’s goal of transitioning to a Non-GMO diet has come to fruition, and they have been instrumental in helping community based Non-GMO soybean processing plants and feed mills certify to Non-GMO Project Verified standards.

Special Recognition

Siggi’s, for offering unique & innovative products in the dairy department and becoming a category leader nationwide for yogurt.

Synergy, for co-creating an all organic cotton basics apparel line with Whole Foods Market. Synergy is committed to fair living wages and healthy work environments and partner with nonprofit groups in Nepal focused on providing financial empowerment to women.

Aquanor, for providing Whole Foods Market with both Responsibly Farmed and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified seafood, and their commitment to partnering with Whole Foods Market for more than 15 years.



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.