Whole Foods opened the 2023 application process for its Local and Emerging Accelerator Program, Thursday. The initiative, launched in 2022, advances the company’s core value of seeking opportunities with local suppliers.
Program participants will receive mentorship from Whole Foods experts, access to educational programs, and potential financial support. Each brand’s products will also be considered for placement on the shelves of Whole Foods stores in their home city or region at the end of the six-month program.
“Since our start more than four decades ago, we’ve been empowering small, local, and emerging producers,” said Alyssa Vescio, SVP of merchandising at Whole Foods, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue this important part of our legacy through the Local and Emerging Accelerator Program. Our first cohort of nine local producers successfully graduated from last year’s inaugural program, and three have already launched in select Whole Foods Market stores.”
One such success story includes CHKP Foods, a plant-based brand that makes dairy-free yogurt from chickpeas. It launched in Whole Foods Market’s Northeast region in January, serving as the regional representative for Whole Foods Market’s initial LEAP cohort.
“Whole Foods Market’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program offered CHKP an invaluable experience to learn, grow and advance our mission,” said Noam Sharon, co-founder of CHKP Foods, in a statement. “The expertise and insights provided by Whole Foods Market taught CHKP what makes a successful emerging brand, and we could not be more grateful for the leadership, confidence, and support the team provided.”
To qualify for the program, the brand must comply with Whole Foods’ quality standards, food and product safety requirements, and business requisites. The final cohorts will be announced in early July.