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General & Departmental Vendor Guidelines

Vendor and Supplier Agreements

All agreements for products and services by a third party vendor, supplier including but not limited maintenance, repair, demonstrations, educational classes etc. must be documented by a written agreement.

Vendor Insurance Guidelines

As a condition precedent to receipt of any product, a certificate of insurance must be received by Whole Foods Market indicating the vendor or supplier maintains general and product liability insurance with limits of coverage in no event less than:

  • General Liability - $1million dollars per occurrence and $3 million dollars aggregate.
  • Product Liability - $5 million dollars per occurrence.
  • Automobile Liability- combined bodily injury/property damage $1 million dollars per occurrence.
  • Umbrella Liability - $10 million dollars per occurrence.
  • Workers Compensation - to cover employees and independent contractors. $1 million dollars per occurrence with per incident and annual deductible of $50k dollars or less.
All renewals must be forwarded to Whole Foods Market a minimum of 30 days prior to expiration. All exceptions to these requirements must be approved in advance by the Vice President of Purchasing. Contact Information


Whole Body Department Guidelines

The Northern California region Whole Body purchasing team looks for products in the following categories:

  • Medicinal Teas (e.g. packaged, bagged and loose teas)
  • Supplements (e.g., vitamins, herbals)
  • Body care (e.g., at-home spa, massage oil)
  • Personal care (e.g., shampoo, sexual health, dental care)
  • Apparel (e.g., clothing)
  • Non-food baby and children’s products (e.g., toys, pacifiers)
  • Various gift items (e.g., candles, pottery)
  • Greeting cards and Gift wrap
  • Books and magazines
  • Music
The Whole Body team reviews new Supplements and Bodycare items on a Category review schedule. Please review the schedule for the appropriate timing of your category. Category Review Schedule

We actively encourage new product submissions from current and new vendors. In particular, we prioritize items that can demonstrate the following:
  • Can replace a similar product
  • Has customer demand
  • Is unique and fills a need in the category
  • Is superior in pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality
  • Gives written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Is distributed through United Natural Foods, Inc.
  • Satisfies our Quality Standards.
  • Has environmental and social mission statements in line with Whole Foods Market’s mission statement
Unfortunately, we decline most new product submissions. Typical reasons for refusal vary, including:

  • Redundant to products we already carry
  • Poor representation
  • Not in distribution
  • Poor return policy
  • No trade out or free fill offers
  • Cost and retails that are not competitive
  • Poor packaging
  • Unacceptable ingredients
  • Don’t fit the themes, needs and direction of Whole Foods Market
If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.

Visit the Resources section for more information about our category review schedule for the year.


Seafood Department Guidelines

The Northern California region Seafood purchasing team looks for products in the following categories:

  • Fresh and fresh-frozen seafood (e.g., tuna, shrimp)
  • Processed products containing seafood (e.g., canned caviar, dried salmon)*
  • Seasoning and sauces (e.g., salmon rub, marinades)
  • Complementary food items (e.g., pasta prepared special for seafood entrees)
  • Any other product that you believe should be merchandized in the seafood department
Our department is focused on innovation in the seafood category. Therefore, we actively encourage new product submissions from current and new vendors. In particular, we prioritize items that can demonstrate the following:
  • Can replace a similar product
  • Has customer demand
  • Is unique and fills a need in the category
  • Is superior in pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality
  • Gives written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Satisfies standards, as spelled out in the application on this site
If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.

* Except canned tuna, which is managed by the Grocery department


Meat Department Guidelines

All new meat vendors must be approved in advance by the department coordinator before proceeding with this online application process.

Do not use this system if you supply random weight beef, pork, lamb, buffalo or chicken. There is a separate process for becoming a fresh meat supplier. If you are interested in this, please contact our Meat Department coordinator.

The Northern California region Meat purchasing team is looking for beef, pork, poultry, buffalo, lamb or other meat products in the following categories:
  • Fixed-weight fresh or frozen meat (e.g., frozen steak, uncooked ribs)
  • Processed products containing meat (e.g., packaged barbecue chicken for sandwiches, dried beef, precooked ribs)
  • Seasoning and sauces (e.g., pork rub, marinades)
  • Complementary food items (e.g., side dishes prepared special for meat entrees)
  • Any other product that you believe should be merchandized in the meat department
We actively encourage new product submissions from current and new vendors. In particular, we prioritize items that can demonstrate the following:
  • Can replace a similar product
  • Has customer demand
  • Is unique and fills a need in the category
  • Is superior in pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality
  • Gives written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Satisfies standards, as spelled out in the application in the application on this site
If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.


Prepared Foods Department Guidelines

The Northern California region Prepared Food purchasing team is looking for food service providers and ingredient suppliers to serve our large and growing food service businesses, which include in-store food service and catering.

We look for items and companies that can match the needs of our large scale of our kitchens, including the following product categories:
  • Random-weight fresh or frozen meat (e.g., frozen steak, precooked ribs)*
  • Random-weight fresh or frozen seafood (e.g., frozen fish, precooked ribs)**
  • Canned and Fresh Produce (e.g., garlic, tomatoes) • Grains (e.g., couscous, rice)
  • Spices (e.g., cumin, thyme)
  • Pre-prepared items that we package (e.g., soups, dressings)
  • Pre-prepared items that are delivered in packaging (e.g., sushi rolls)
  • Any other product that you believe fits in a high-quality food service environment
Do not use this system if you already supply items to our business through Sysco.

Our department is growing as a percentage of retail square footage. Therefore, we embrace new supply opportunities that can help us match the growing demand and evolving tastes of our customers. In particular, we prioritize companies that can professionally service large and growing restaurant-quality kitchens.

If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.

* You must be an approved meat vendor to supply mean products to Whole Foods Market. More Information
** You must be an approved seafood vendor to supply seafood products to Whole Foods Market. More Information


Specialty Department Guidelines

The Northern California region Specialty purchasing team looks for products in the following categories:
  • House wares (e.g., linens and picture frames)
  • Cookware (e.g., baking dishes and plates)
  • Specialty pantry items (e.g., exotic spices, gourmet mustards and salts)
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Cheese (e.g., artisan goat cheese)
  • Chocolate (e.g., packaged chocolate candies and bulk chocolate)
  • Cooking accessories for specialty items (e.g., wine making kits, cheese board)
  • Specialty foods parings (e.g., exotic salts, chutneys, crackers, cookies)
  • Any other product that you believe should be merchandized in the Specialty department
In selecting new products for Specialty, buyers are particularly interested in the story behind a product, including, for example, information about the farm, the producer, and the animals. The department is actively seeking to increase the number of organic products it carries and encourages new product and vendor submissions.

Specific qualities that the Specialty department is looking for in several categories:
  • House wares – products made from sustainable materials (e.g., ecologically harvested bamboo), products made from recycled materials, and products that enhance food presentation and entertaining (e.g., cheese trays)
  • Cookware – products to enhance gourmet cooking (e.g., salt mills)
  • Cheese – organic or RBST-free
  • Chocolate – single-origin beans
Our department is focused on innovation in the Specialty category. Therefore, we actively encourage new product submissions from current and new vendors. In particular, we prioritize items that can demonstrate the following:
  • Can replace a similar product
  • Has customer demand
  • Is unique and fills a need in the category
  • Is superior in pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality
  • Gives written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Satisfies standards, as spelled out on this site
The Wine team reviews new items on a Category review schedule. Please review the schedule for the appropriate timing of your category. Category Review Schedule

If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.


Bakery Department Guidelines

The bakery category is seasonal, and therefore the Northern California and Pacific Northwest Regions’ Bakery purchasing team actively encourages well-timed new product submissions. Our department is especially focused on products that encourage our customers to entertain. We also carry products for special diets, such as vegan, gluten-free, no sugar added, and low-carb. Though we support local vendors, we prioritize vendors who can supply all of our stores in the region.

Before any new bakery product can be considered, its ingredients must be approved and our quality standards must be followed. In addition, we prioritize items that can demonstrate the following:

  • Is visually attractive and “wows” the customer
  • Can supply all of our stores in the region
  • Can replace a similar product
  • Has customer demand
  • Uses a new technology in the baking industry
  • Is unique and fills a need in the category
  • Is superior in pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality
  • Gives written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Satisfies other standards, as spelled out on this site

The Northern California Region’s Bakery purchasing team looks for items to supply our Bakery, Coffee, Juice Bar and Gelato* departments. Please see the lists below for a detailed explanation of each sub-category’s products.

Bakery

  • Bars
  • Brownies
  • Biscotti
  • Breakfast Pastries (e.g., croissants and Danishes)
  • Cakes & Cheesecakes
  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Confections (e.g., chocolate bars and fudge)
  • Pies
  • Quick breads (e.g., pound cakes and breakfast cakes)
  • Scones & Biscuits
  • Tarts
  • Bagels
  • Focaccia, Pizza and Flat Breads
  • French Breads
  • Hearth Breads
  • Breadsticks, Crostini and Croutons
  • Rolls and Buns
  • Sliced Packaged Breads
  • Chocolates (bulk and boxed)
  • Holiday gift items
  • Ethic fods

Coffee

  • Bulk Coffee
  • Packaged Coffee
  • Drinks sold at the coffee bar (e.g., teas, espresso drinks, coffee, etc.)

Juice Bar

  • Fresh juices (fruit and vegetable)
  • Smoothies and Shakes
  • Frozen desserts
If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait at least six months before re-submitting the item.

*New stores only


Grocery Department Guidelines

The Northern California region Grocery purchasing team looks for items in the following categories:
  • Dry grocery items (e.g., cereals, teas, diapers and canned soups, ready-to-drink shelf stable beverages)
  • Dairy (e.g., milk, eggs and yogurt)
  • Bulk bin items (e.g., granola and dried fruits)
  • Frozen (e.g., meal solutions and bagged fruits)
The Grocery team reviews new items on a Category review schedule. Please review the schedule for the appropriate timing of your category. Category Review Schedule

Our department is particularly interested in emerging trends in the food industry, for example, health and wellness products. Therefore, we actively encourage new product submissions from current and new vendors.

Our buyers receive an extremely large volume of product inquiries. To be successful, new items should do the following:
  • Exceed our quality standards
  • Demonstrate customer demand
  • Be unique and fill a need in the category
  • Secure distribution Help me decide
  • Pricing, discounts, packaging, and quality that will support strong sales
  • Give written commitments for demos and trainings
  • Satisfy or exceed other standards, as spelled out on this site
If there is a truly extraordinary story that goes with your product, please be sure to communicate that story in the application as it may affect our ability to retail the product.

If your presentation of products is unsuccessful, we prefer that you wait until the next category review before re-submitting the item(s).

Visit the Resources section for more information about our category review schedule for the year.