You’ve dedicated seemingly endless hours to developing the perfect product, and now that product is being sold in a few locations. But you know your product is incredible, and you feel ready to move onto bigger retailers. Why not go for the pinnacle of healthy and natural products -- Whole Foods?
Below, we break down, step by step, how to become a Whole Foods supplier. You’ll be selling loads of product to Whole Foods in no time!
In order to work with Whole Foods, your product must meet certain quality standards. Here’s what the retailer requires of every wholesaler it works with:
Whole foods requires all foods to be free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. Unacceptable food ingredients can be found (listed alphabetically!) here.
Produce And Flowers
Produce and flowers must be responsibly grown. Whole foods considers seven sustainability factors when analyzing responsible growth:
- Soil health
- Air, energy, and climate
- Waste reduction
- Farmworker welfare
- Water conservation and protection
- Ecosystems & biodiversity
- Pest management
For Whole Foods to carry your meat products, they have to be sourced sustainably and cruelty free.
Cleaning products must be sustainable and eco-friendly for Whole Foods to consider carrying them.
If your product and company meet all these standards, you are ready to start applying!
You can download the application through this link. When you have completed all four steps, you should print and sign all the forms, then deliver them - by hand or via mail - to the Whole Foods Team Member with whom you plan to work. Below we'll go over how to fill out each section in detail.
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Becoming a Whole Foods supplier opens your brand up to a large, passionate group of shoppers.
The supplier application is essentially a place to fill out contact information for everyone who would be involved in the sale of your product -- from producers to distributors to a payment point of contact. Specifically, you will need to list:
- Supplier address, phone number, and email address
- Producing facility name, address, phone number, and email address
- Product name
- Co-packer name and address
- Business contact information
- Accounting/payment contact information
- Whole Foods employee name, title, and department
- Whole Foods Market encourages and expects that your application process will bring you in direct contact with a store employee/manager. Your relationship with this team member is very important -- make sure you cultivate it!
This form also has a section titled “Please Attach Copies of…”. These documents will be addressed in Step 5 (Other Forms).
All you need to do with this document is read, understand, sign, and date. Understanding it is easier said than done, of course. It’s a good idea to go over this form with someone versed in technical language, so they can clarify how some points apply to your organization.
The agreement essentially lays out the legal relationship between Whole Foods Market and any wholesale supplier. Whole Foods expects retailers to:
- Deliver product free from defect and in a safe and timely manner
- To abide by any state or federal law applying to their product
- To have certifications for claims such as “organic” or “kosher"
- To abide by the Whole Foods quality assurance program
- This program consists of facility audits, inspections performed by Whole Foods agents, random product tests, and observation of production by Whole Foods agents.
You can always go to www.wholefoodsmarket.com/vendor (username: vendor, password: wholefoods) to review the retailer’s product specifications, requirements, and standards.
To do business with Whole Foods Market, you are required to provide a certificate of insurance. Obtaining a certificate is easy:
- Go to http://wholefoodsmarket.Exigis.com (or call 888-808-0872 if the site is down).
- Provide your company's contact information
- Enter your insurance provider’s contact information
EXIGIS will contact your insurance broker and arrange for the correct documents to be sent to Whole Foods Market. Done!
Whole Foods basalt come and see us! pic.twitter.com/JsqWBeTOMW— RollinGreens (@RollinGreens1) March 29, 2017
You're right on your way to becoming a Whole Foods vendor!
Whole Foods Market requires wholesalers to submit several additional documents as part of their new supplier application. Here’s how to find and complete each one:
Sample invoices are easy to create. You can find free templates for invoices online -- try sites like Invoice Home or QuickBooks. For this invoice, you will need the following information: your company name and address, a product description, and a product price.
The most recent version of this IRS form can be found here.
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) App
This application is page five of the New Supplier Application document. You must fill out the short form in the document, and submit as part of your application. You must have the following information on your organization’s banking: Bank name, bank address, bank phone number, account number, and account routing number.
Vendor Internet Portal Enrollment
This form is on page seven of the application document. You only need to fill in company name and two points of contact for the company. Later, you will receive an email with instructions on how to continue setting up the portal.
Supplier Compliance Checklist
This form is page eight of the application document. It is an in-depth checklist which goes step-by-step through product quality standards, food safety, labeling compliance, and food risk levels. This checklist should be straightforward to fill out: some sections will not apply to your product, and those that do apply will be easy to answer with good knowledge of your product.
Distributor Contact Information
If you will be using ant distributors, you should print and submit the name, address, and contact information of each.
Third Party Food Safety Audit Certificate
Whole Foods encourages, but does not require, a food safety audit from a third party. There are a multitude of companies who will perform these audits. Try checking out these companies: Cert-ID, SAI Global, and ASI Food.
If you are labeling your product as Organic, Whole Foods Market requires a copy of your organic certification. TO find an organization near you to certify your product, follow this link.
Print and sign all the above forms, and you’re ready to submit! Just mail them to deliver them to your Whole Foods Market contact, and you have successfully completed your Whole Foods Vendor Application.
If no buyers contact you about your product, don’t be discouraged! Try searching for other retailers that better fit your brand identity, and work to develop relationships there. As you create those relationships, cultivate them with regular store visits and a great field sales team.
Molly Brogie is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly with a passion for innovation. She is committed to providing readers with informative and engaging material. Molly is a self proclaimed gym-junkie, and loves Shakespeare.