ron marks

Whole Foods Bails on $100 Million Agreement, Drives Big Organic Supplier to Bankruptcy

By On April 5, 2018

Is the Whole Foods Corporation a true friend of the organic and non-GMO movement, or do they still have too many issues to work out before they can be fully trusted?

That’s been the question on many people’s minds since a 2011 article was published titled ‘Whole Foods Caves In to Monsanto,’ which highlighted the company’s complex decision to stop opposing GM alfalfa.

Now, the company is in the news again for a series of events that left an organic, grass-fed milk producer “holding the bag”  in this case nothing but a bag of empty promises.

Milk Company Left with Millions in Debt After Whole Foods Bails

The company in question, AtlantaFresh, was poised to become one of the top selling lines of grass-fed milk in the country when they signed a 7-year, $100 million contract with Whole Foods in 2016.

Their founder Ron Marks was courted by management and decided to take the risk of ramping up his company’s operations, with Whole Foods promising to sell 30,000 gallons of milk per week.

They changed everything, revamping their facilities, adding expensive equipment, and preparing to become the next big thing on Whole Foods shelves.

But just 3-4 months into their agreement according to this article from the website New Food Economy, Whole Foods slowly began to back out.

They allegedly violated the terms of their contract by only buying 10,000 gallons a week, stopped advertising, and sat by idly as AtlantaFresh sunk deeply into debt.

Marks was left in ruins, forced to fire his employees, and understandably quite upset about the way things went down.

“They canceled every one of them, and they never notified us directly,” Marks said according to the article. “We had to find out through the distributor. Pardon my French, but I couldn’t believe how shitty and how petty that was, that they didn’t have the courtesy to let us know directly.”

The result: Whole Foods got out of its responsibility, and Marks was left with millions of dollars in debt, and a business with no customers.

The natural foods giant was legally allowed to cancel its contract at any time, but the way it all went down was still shocking to Marks and his 30-plus employees, all of which were fired.

Whole Foods Responds, Should You Still Shop There?

According to the article, a Whole Foods spokesperson responded by saying that the company made “significant efforts” across the business to increase sales, but added that they sometimes must discontinue certain products when they do not meet sales expectations.

Still, the damage has been done, as more and more people learn of how Marks and his company were treated. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the big money organic industry, and just part of the reason why more and more people are choosing to buy local instead.

“I owe a lot of people a lot of money,” Marks said. “I’m trying to stay out of bankruptcy, both business and personal.

“It rips my heart out…”

For the full story of Marks and Whole Foods’ dispute, you can read the New Food Economy article by clicking here.

After reading this story, are you less likely to shop at Whole Foods in the future? If so, feel free to share this article, and let us know what you think on our Facebook page by clicking here.

Thumbnail photo via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution