From bread to brownies, baked goods are favorite treats for people around the world. Statistics show that artisanal and gourmet baked goods occupied approximately 51% of the overall baked goods market in 2013, proving that when consumers go to the shelves, they want the highest quality (1).

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As a staple of the lauded Mediterranean diet, olive oil has been praised for its healthful qualities and flavor in countries such as Italy and Greece for quite a long time, and now it’s gained a foothold in the United States as well.

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The chocolate game has changed. Today, gourmet chocolatiers are adding exotic fruit, spices and cacao nibs to their premium bars and they are flying off the shelves.

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Ice cream sales generate big dollars in the United States. $10 billion, to be exact, in 2011 (1). Manufacturers in the competitive ice cream space are pulling out all the stops to grab their piece of the pie (à la mode, of course). The results are some pretty unique high-end gourmet products that are far from vanilla. We’re seeing outside-the-carton ingredients and flavor combinations like herbs and salty-sweet varieties that have piqued the interest of shoppers. And the cherry on top are premium ingredients that bring products to new levels in terms of flavor and social responsibility.

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Continuing on our discussion about Gourmet Snack Foods, we have an online exclusive interview with Angie Bastian, founder of Angie’s Artisan Popcorn of Mankato, MN. Angie's pops fresh popcorn batch by batch. The line includes Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt and Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar, as well as Sweet and Spicy, Salted Caramel, Kettle Corn and more.

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Chips. Cookies. Nuts. Popcorn. America has a love affair with snacks.

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The healthy, delicious and varied world of mushrooms is growing ever more popular, both in the natural and gourmet markets. With so many types to choose from, from fruity chanterelles, to meaty portobellos, to the most expensive truffles in the world, the mushroom market has something for everyone. This month, our Gourmet Guru, co-founder and owner of FungusAmongUs Lynn Monroe, talks with WholeFoods about the many benefits of mushrooms, both in culinary applications and in health.

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According to the 2013 WholeFoods Retailer Survey, prepared foods are a key driver of foot traffic and sales in many natural products stores. Prepared foods—such as ready-made meals, fresh juice from a juice bar, bakery items and the like—comprised about 13.13% of overall sales among independent natural products retailers. Without a doubt, shoppers are drawn to stores that have fresh, delicious prepared foods that can make for a quick, healthy meal.

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Founded in 1994, Garden of Eden (www.edengourmet.com) is a premier gourmet grocer with six locations in New York and New Jersey. The stores are stocked floor to ceiling with over 10,000 gourmet items, showcased artistically in beautiful displays. This month, our Gourmet Guru Jaime Chailland, director of HR and development, talks about what it takes to be a top-notch gourmet store in the tri-state area.

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Every retailer is dying to know, “What are the next big market segments I can tap into so as to best serve my clients and increase my store sales?”

Well, here at WholeFoods Magazine, we believe we have found one for you: the natural gourmet market.

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