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  • Writer's pictureCalla Norman

How to Get Your Food Business Ready to Hit Whole Foods’ Shelves!

At Honeycomb, we’ve had the pleasure of coming across businesses we’ve worked with on the shelves at the grocery stores - namely, Whole Foods!

Whole Foods has a commitment to sourcing products locally from the areas where they open stores, and send out “Regional Foragers” to locate the best products to grace the retail shelves. In 2020, Whole Food introduced 10,000 local products to their stores, and this number is expected to grow. For many food entrepreneurs, Whole Foods is the first shot at retail expansion, thanks to their openness to working with small, local businesses.

How can you get your food product at Whole Foods? Well, there are a few things you need to be ready for, including making sure you’ve got the right ingredients, are able to meet the scale they need, and have the financing necessary to make these developments. Let’s break it down:

Make sure you’ve got the right ingredients

Whole Foods has strict standards when it comes to the products they sell in their stores. They need to be sustainably sourced and can’t contain certain ingredients, mostly additives and synthetic ingredients. You can see the lists of approved and unapproved ingredients here for food products, pet products, bath and body products, and cleaning supplies.

Most likely if you’re seeking to get your product in Whole Foods, you already meet these standards because you share similar values to the store. Still, it’s nice to have a list to match up your ingredient list so you can be 100% certain that you will qualify to work with them.

The best way to make sure your business is up to standards is to register with Whole Foods’ supplier portal, which has all the information you need.

Be ready to scale

One of the biggest issues that retailers like Whole Foods face when working with local food suppliers (like you) is keeping up the supply of your product in the face of high demand. It’s likely once your product is on the shelves at Whole Foods, demand will pick up for your product since it’s now being displayed for a large customer base. Are you ready to meet that demand?

At this point, you might need to meet with your staff or your co-packer (if you have one, and if you don’t, you might want to consider working with one!) and make sure they are able to produce enough to keep your product on the shelves. Whole Foods operates on a wholesale model, meaning they buy your product at a discounted price, and usually require you to work through a third-party distributor, if you don’t already have a relationship with a wholesaler.

Additionally, you want to make sure your product is ready for a grocery store’s shelves. Is the packaging eye-catching enough and does it display what your brand is about to the world? Also, Whole Foods has strict guidelines on the different types of claims you can make on your packaging - whether it’s non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten-free, those sorts of things, so make sure you’re aligned with their standards.

Have the right financing for this big move

Most likely, a lot of the process of scaling up and getting your product into Whole Food stores is going to cost a pretty penny. You need to consider research and development to get it perfect for store shelves, the cost of designing and purchasing new packaging, if applicable, the cost of marketing your product, and the cost of scaling it up to meet demand at Whole Foods.

Often, food businesses at this stage look to take out a loan in order to scale up their businesses. However, bank lending is on a decline, and many early-stage companies have a hard time getting the funding they need to grow. Why not utilize a method of lending that allows you to get fair access to capital and strengthen your customer relationships at the same time (always a good idea if you’re looking to reach new markets)?

Honeycomb Credit allows you to crowdfund small business loans from your greatest resource - your community. This boosts your brand’s marketability, builds stronger bonds with your customers, and gets you the capital your small business deserves at a fair rate.

Several businesses that have grown with Honeycomb Credit crowdfunded small business loans have made their way to Whole Foods’ shelves, such as Mompops and Stone’s Throw Hash. One excellent example of that is 8Myles, a gourmet mac and cheese brand based out of Washington, D.C.

Owner Myles Powell used his Honeycomb Credit campaign to improve upon his production and distribution, launch a marketing campaign, and increase brand recognition, which led him to get his product into not only Whole Foods, but also Target stores!

Get your small business grocery store-ready with a little help from your friends

If you’re looking to grow your business and reach new markets (like, Whole Foods Market), crowdfunding a loan to get you started can be a great idea! Fill out the form below to get more information.


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