Whole Foods Hits the Street for New Products
Back in 2003, while working barely-undercover at Trader Joe’s
to learn about the company’s culture, we heard the story of a regional manager
who gave up being a buyer so he could spend more than one month a year sleeping
in his own bed. (We assumed an exaggeration, but to what degree we weren’t
sure.) Trader Joe’s was (is) known for having its people scouring the planet
looking for unique products so it can deliver items not found in other stores.
Joe’s, of course, is not the only retailer that hunts for new product treasure
and a current example making news is Whole Foods, which has approached street-food
vendors in the San Francisco Bay area about developing items for sale in its
Harvindar Singh, identified as the Northern California forager for Whole
Foods Market, told SFWeekly, "The street-food movement is very
hot right now, and they’ve got some great products."
Mr. Singh has spoken
to vendors about developing shelf-stable, refrigerated and frozen foods for
the chain’s 30 stores in Northern California. "They
have to feel ready and capable of doing this," he said. "This is
a whole new business for them. I’d want to make sure they have the volume and
know how to do business at this level. It’s a partnership."
According to SFWeekly,
Mr. Singh is serious about finding new supplier talent for Whole Foods. He
even gave them his email: Harvindar.Singh@wholefoods.com.
Discussion Questions: What food retailers do you think excel in the search
for new and unique products? What do you think about the approach Harvindar
Singh is taking in trying to develop new vendors for Whole Foods?