Larger specialty stores like Whole Foods Market require pre-approval from their corporate teams to get added to stores. This makes sense. They manage a lot more stores, with a lot more people and consumers. They need to follow systems to stay organized.
There are two routes to get into WFM. They both require approval from the WFM Mid-Atlantic (WFM-MAC) buying team.
- Tasting through Union Kitchen
- Local Supplier Endorsement
Tasting through Union Kitchen
The first option is participating in a tasting through Union Kitchen with the regional WFM team and receiving direct approval. These typically occur around a new WFM store opening. Participation in a tasting is at the discretion of Union Kitchen.
Local Supplier Endorsement
The second is stopping into local stores and getting the store buyer to submit a Local Supplier Endorsement Form. The form essentially says that the store commits to bringing on the product if approved. The WFM-MAC team then reviews all the endorsement forms quarterly.
Once approved and in the regional system, any store in the Mid-Atlantic can pick up the product. This means it is pitching time!
We recommend going with both routes. Ask the Union Kitchen team what you need to do to be added to the next tasting AND start pitching through the Local Supplier Endorsement program.