Whole Foods Market
Where’s the Beef?
Rahul Nirmal, Azim Surani , Alok Parikh, Jorge Reyes
Whole Foods Market was founded in 1978 by John Mackey and girlfriend Rene Lawson with personal capital in Austin, Texas. Its headquarters and flagship store are located there, with the offices being located above the store in the same building. Although they are best known for dealing with natural and organic foods, they also deal in other “green” items such as vitamins, dietary supplements, natural personal care and household products, etc. You may be familiar with some health food companies such as Odwalla. These were all start-ups before having sold their products to WFM and have risen to national attention thanks to WFM’s marketing power.
It is one of the largest retailers in the world dealing exclusively in organic food with over 270 locations in North America and the U.K and over 130 in the U.S alone. They had expanded to Canada in 2002 and the U.K in 2004 after acquiring several stores of a local natural foods retailer there. Throughout its history, it has merged with several competitors and in this decade, has acquired Food for Thought located in California and Harry’s Farmers Market stores in Atlanta. Most of its acquired stores have kept their branding and operate relatively independently from WFM.
They had first expanded to Dallas and Houston a few years after its founding. There are several locations in Houston; we had visited the Sugarland location where we spoke to the management to procure valuable information.
We decided to specifically focus on the logistics of the beef WFM sells and the process of getting from the farms to the shelves of the various locations. Meats do only contribute a small amount of WFM’s total sales, where the majority comes from bread and dairy products and John Mackey took a risk of introducing meat products into his stores when many customers are vegetarian or vegan.
The company uses many suppliers, over 10,000 in...