Local Farmers Sought for Partnerships with National Food Supermarket

  • Thursday, April 12, 2007

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - Maryland Cooperative Extension (MCE) and the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) are hosting a buyer-grower seminar for small farmers interested in supplying Whole Foods Market.  The natural foods supermarket wants to buy products in the Maryland, Delaware and Virginia agricultural communities.

    The free seminar will be held Saturday, April 28, from 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Maryland Department of Agriculture headquarters at 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis.   Individual buyer meetings will follow between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.   Whole Foods Market is seeking a broad selection of the highest quality natural products such as produce, fruit, berries, herbs, flowers, cheese, seafood, meat, jams, soaps, lotions and food service/prepared foods items such as ingredients, local favorites and unique dishes.

    The seminar will include: an introduction to Whole Foods and the company's commitment to partnering with local growers and suppliers; Whole Foods quality standards and what producers can do to meet them; hot trends in the natural foods marketplace and what Whole Foods is looking for now; information about a unique, low interest loan program for small, local agricultural producers; and an opportunity for brief, one-on-one meetings with Whole Foods buyers to discuss products.

    Space is limited, so pre-registration by Monday, April 16, is required. Contact Vichelle Taylor at vichelle.taylor@wholefoods.com or 301-984-4755 to register and schedule an individual buyer's meeting if one is desired.

    Founded in 1980 in Austin, TX, Whole Foods Market (www.wholefoodsmarket.com) is the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In fiscal year 2006, the company had sales of $5.6 billion and currently has more than 185 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Whole Foods Market, Harry's Farmers Market and Fresh & Wild are trademarks owned by Whole Foods Market IP, LP.

    MCE programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, political beliefs or national origin.  For more information, call Thomas Handwerker with Maryland Cooperative Extension at 410-845-5456 or Jane Storrs with the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5770. 

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    Kat Harting, media specialist, UMES Department of Agriculture, 410-651-6084, kharting@umes.edu.

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