Monday, January 30, 2006

Vegans on the March to take over World

The Observer | Food monthly | Peace, love and profit - meet the world's richest organic grocer

UK Retail Grocery trade and in particular Holland & Barrett with their vegan pork pies and stranglehold on the UK retail health food business should be looking out for this man.

John Mackey is a vegan who means business - a business valued at $5bn Sales are expected to top $12bn in the US by 2010.

He has spent £21 million taking over Fresh and Wild and is currently refurbishing London Department Store, Barkers to give us the UK's biggest ever Health Food & Wholefood Store. He has plans to have a whole Foods store in every major city in the UK.

Mackey asks: 'Are you familiar with Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs? His theory is that our first and most important needs are physical - food, water, sex. When those needs get met, other needs begin to assert themselves - safety, belonging, having a sense of love and friendship, then self-esteem. Beyond that it is self-actualisation.'

Whole Foods' journey to self-actualisation has taken time - some 25 years so far - and Britain is the company's first overseas investment. Mackey is anticipating a certain amount of scepticism. 'They said our first store in Austin would not work. Then they said it would not work outside Austin, that it would not work outside Texas, that we would never succeed in California or Chicago or New York. People dismissed us sort of a fad, just a bunch of weird food hippies. But we've proved them wrong everywhere we've gone, and we'll carry on.'

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, Mackey has proved almost everyone wrong and, in the process, has turned conventional business wisdom on its head. He has transformed 'hippy business' from a recipe for disaster to a prescription for world-beating - and, perhaps, world-changing - growth. Whole Foods is battling the industrialisation of farming. It sells natural food from reputable, small-scale suppliers.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Anyone who says they are a vegan and yet whose business makes a majority of its profits selling meat, cheese and deli is, in my opinion, a liar and a completely desenitized asshole. Furthermore,a few years ago, before Whole Foods came to our area (Wal Mart style), we had a few good alternitive stores that catered to vegans and sold the same cruelty-free products for less.

People who work at Whole Foods with their 'team' conditioning are not consumer friendly, act weird and never really know what the hell they are talking about. A really good alternative independent is usually better staffed with people who are there because they have an interest in the products they are selling and the affect on all our lives.

Apparently though, cliques are what's happening at Whole Foods. No wonder they have the intelligence of football teams in high schools and their favorite lays.