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Whole Foods Market(R) Lends $2.5 Million to Local Growers, Producers and Food Artisans
Date:5/26/2009

Natural and Organic Retailer Hits Milestone in Program to Help Local Producers Grow Businesses; More Loans Available Despite Nation's Credit Crunch

AUSTIN, Texas, May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), the leading natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today that its Local Producer Loan Program has provided producers throughout the United States with $2.5 million in low-interest loans.

Whole Foods Market launched the Local Producer Loan Program and awarded its first loans in early 2007 with a commitment to fund up to $10 million in low-interest loans. The Company's goal is to make it easier for local and independent farmers, producers and food artisans to grow their businesses and bring more local products to market.

The Company continues to accept local loan applications from producers seeking to expand their businesses. Since the program began, nearly 50 loans have been made to businesses throughout the United States, with an additional 20 applications pending.

"Whole Foods Market is committed to helping grow local businesses, not only by providing access to these loans, but also by providing an outlet to sell their unique artisanal products," said Betsy Foster, Whole Foods Market global vice president of growth and business development. "We are thrilled to have assisted in the growth of local businesses nationwide. It's exciting to hit this milestone."

Local producers who have received loans include organic vegetable farmers, a heritage turkey grower, grass-fed cattle ranchers, a natural body care products maker and a host of other artisanal food producers. Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods Market's quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 an
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SOURCE Whole Foods Market
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