Whole Foods To Help Up-And-Coming Brands With Its Accelerator Program

Do you count yourself among grocery chain Whole Foods' legions of fans? While detractors still nickname the often-pricey supermarket "Whole Paycheck" (via CNET), loyal shoppers cite the store's wide range of specialty items, its tasty prepared foods bar, and its selection of wine and beer on tap, as just some of the reasons why they love to frequent the chain.

Like many of the big grocery chains including Trader Joe's and Costco, Whole Foods lists an impressive roster of products that attract a cult-like following, from its frozen mochi ice cream balls to its versatile cauliflower pizza crust to its sweet-salty Cape Cod trail mix (via Whole Foods). And if you're still looking for your personal Whole Foods favorite, then good news. The chain just announced its first-ever accelerator program dedicated to helping develop and promote 10 emerging brands that will eventually have the opportunity to market their products at their home city's Whole Foods locations.

Participating brands include craft babka, beet jerky, plant-based yogurt, and more

Yesterday, on its official website, upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods announced its inaugural accelerator program aimed at showcasing up-and-coming brands from across the country. The store's Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP) will shepherd 10 emerging brands through a 12-week education curriculum taught by Whole Foods and other industry experts, provide one-year of mentorship with a Whole Foods local forager, and other benefits. 

Brands that successfully complete the program will also be eligible to receive a $25,000 equity investment, along with the opportunity to market their goods in their home city's Whole Foods locations. LEAP's initial brands cohort includes Providence-based Buns Bakery, maker of babkas and other Jewish baked goods; Brooklyn-based CHKP, a line of chickpea-based yogurts; San Diego-based Coyotas, offering small-batch cassava-based tortillas; and Chicago-based THEO's, makers of beet jerky.

"We are delighted to welcome 10 exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program," said Whole Foods' Vice President of Local Merchandising, Will Betts. "We look forward to sharing valuable insights into marketing best practices, strategy, and channel development to help expand the cohort members' brands while preparing to introduce their products to Whole Foods Market shoppers."