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Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program hit its latest milestone at the end of May, providing a total of $20 million in low-interest loans to independent producers and artisans. To date, the retailer has made 310 loans, given to 252 recipients in 42 states and two Canadian provinces.
The latest loan went to Portland, Ore.-based café and juice bar Canteen, which will be a Friends of 365 partner at 365 by Whole Foods Market’s location in Lake Oswego, Ore., set to open July 14. Inside the store, Canteen will feature design elements from its flagship shop in Portland, and will serve an “innovative menu of organic juices and smoothies” and other items.
Loans have averaged about $65,000, with an average interest rate of 5 percent. Recipients have used their loans to purchase livestock, invest in new equipment, expand production facilities, adapt to more sustainable practices or convert to organic production. Whole Foods charges no closing fees or fees for early repayment, and a minimal loan origination fee. Loan recipients’ products must meet Whole Foods’ quality standards, and recipients must use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan.
To date, 48 percent of recipients are women-owned businesses; 34 percent are organic, biodynamic or non-GMO-certified companies; and 10 percent hold at least one certification, such as Fair Trade, B Corp, Youth Trade or Global Animal Partnership animal welfare ratings. Thirty percent are agricultural businesses, supplying meat or produce to Whole Foods stores, or contributing ingredients to the supply chain of other products.
“We are privileged to work with such dedicated and driven loan recipients, and are so proud to play a part in their growth by providing mentorship and guidance, as well as capital,” said Betsy Foster, Whole Foods’ global VP of growth and development. “We have loved working with our recipients to innovate, and collaborating to advance healthy ingredients and sustainable farming practices while creating some new household names.”