Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Whole Foods to Privately Support Local Growers with $25 Million

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

If you are expanding a local growing or food business, you might want to look to Whole Foods Market. Or, do you wish to convert your farm to organic?

They had success with their $10 million in fixed low-interest loans to over 150 businesses. So why not follow it up and keep the growing going?

They announced last Thursday that they have now committed $25 million in funding to their Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP). Since 2007, they have provided 184 loans to 155 companies. Funds are targeted to help local growers, producers and food artisans.

Whole Foods (WF) appears to be walking the walk to better local growing by sending money where it's needed - the small local growing pioneers. To people where it might otherwise be difficult to obtain a loan, or at least a low-interest one.

According to them, their first $10 million has enabled growth, but also went to pioneer projects like biodynamic farming, non-GMO animal feed, pollinator health and healthier, environmental-protective packaging.

The addition of $15 million can go a long way, so the company welcomes new loan applications from producers seeking to expand their businesses. Whether applicants offer a distinctive artisan food product or a new hydroponic farming facility, WF loan administrators, buyers and local foragers work closely with business owners to drive growth and success.

Betsy Foster, the global vice president of growth and business development emphasizes that expanding the program is a direct result of the innovations and successes of the loan recipients.

While some loan recipients sell products in Whole Foods Market stores, such as organic vegetable farmers, grass-fed cattle ranchers, natural body care producers and gluten-free bakers, many other recipients operate businesses that support the natural foods industry. Additionally, they wish to help more women start businesses.

In the end, it really expands the WF business but could also expand the selection and quality for customers. Consumer enthusiasm for WF has waxed and waned over the years with controversies surrounding GMOs and corporatism. This program appears to be keeping funds in the U.S.

Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods Market's quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Typical loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 and have fixed low-interest rates.

Previous loan recipients have used their loans for purchasing more livestock, investing in new equipment, expanding production facilities, adapting to more sustainable practices or converting to organic production.

To view online video testimonials from loan recipients, and for other program details, visit: media.wholefoodsmarket.com/press/local.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

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Anonymous said...

This doesn't change the fact that Whole Foods prices are an absolute rip-off, despite the praises being extended to the company in this article.

Trader Joe's manages to use similar high-quality and natural ingredients in many of it's products (except the disgusting two-buck chuck) at nearly 50% lower in cost, and they're hardly "cheap" themselves.

Anonymous said...

I agree, whole foods is just too expensive. you can shop equally good at sprouts, trader joes and even costco. as always read the labels

Renard Moreau said...

[ Smiles ] Once it is organically grown, I am all for it!

Anonymous said...

Just be sure to read your "organic" labels to see where the produce is grown. If it's from China....IT AIN'T ORGANIC!

LorieK said...

First stating, I have worked for Whole Foods Market for almost 14 years. This is my opinion, off the clock. Trader Joe's doesn't even make their "prepared foods" on site, it's all packaged. I would invite anyone to do a comparison shop - quality = quality, organic/conventional = organic/conventional and see how much of a difference there truly is. "Whole paycheck" is so 90's. The quality standards at WFM are higher than any place else, period. There wouldn't BE "organic standards" if it wasn't for the efforts of WFM, and Margaret Wittenberg, in particular. They are actively more competitive at the shelf and have been for years, and I don't see that stopping. They have invested tons of money in the fight against GMO's, from partnering with the Non-GMO Project from the beginning, to supporting state propositions by investing in voter education programs in relevant states, to making the effort and bearing the expense of identifying all Non-GMO certified products on their shelves. Then of course there is the Whole Planet Foundation, making micro-credit loans to the poor, the Whole Kids Foundation, the Health Starts Here programs, and on and on. Doing this with team members who have kept Whole Foods Market on Forbes 100 Best Companies to work for list, since it's inception. I know the two CEO's personally, and you would be hard pressed to find such compassionate and caring leadership in most grocery store companies. This trickles down to Regional leadership as well. What do Sprouts and Trader Joe's do with their profits?...none of the above. If it's all about getting the cheapest price, by all means go to Walmart. If you think there is such a thing as a corporation with a conscience...if caring about people, their health and wellness and putting clean and nutricious food in your body is important, and where your money goes .. to me, Whole Foods Market gets it and I am happy to support them. It's not all about the $$.

Anonymous said...

I don't trust Whole Foods one iota. I would never give them my business. They are up there with Walmart and Mickey D's, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Please watch the following films and youtube video's for a concept whose time has come. Kill the meat industry, it IS the essence of disease and torture.
The Ghost In Our Machine

Comfortably UNAWARE, on youtube by Dr. Richard Oppenlander on the wrongful use of the word, "sustainable."

Finally, Dr. Robert Goodland, 23 year environmental adviser to The World Bank, "Truth in Agriculture" excerpts on youtube from Dr. John McDougall Advanced Wellness Week-end.

Anonymous said...

As a small grower looking to expand my aquaponics growing, this is great news, with this I will be able to employ several people and give back to my community. Do I care if their organic ethiopian sesame oil is $.02 more?... hmm nope.. thanks for the opprotunity to put farmers back to work!

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Anonymous said...

the real issue behind Whole Foods's altruism (?) is that while they like to give the perception of being pro small business, whenever a new small company goes to them with product to show, the first thing they always demand is free fill for the stores. They also get much better pricing than many others in the natural foods industry, yet want to funnel consumers to the 365 brand - their private label, and most profitable,

So, for Whole Foods, perception is where they try to win, not pricing.

There are more than enough people out there who want the cachet of sporting a Whole Foods shopping bag, or to say that "Whole Foods is where they shop;" and quite frankly, because perception is reality for most people - THAT is what they care about.

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