Baltimore, MD –Dean Nelson, founder and owner of New Jersey-based Dean’s Natural Food Market, issued a call to the industry to return to its roots during his acceptance speech while receiving WholeFoods Magazine’s27th Retailer of the Yearaward.

“I still think we are in the greatest industry,” Nelson told the assemblage on the convention floor at the Natural Foods Expo East.  “Two things I’ve heard repeatedly over the last two days: One is that we’re chasing the same dollar and that’s kind of frightening. The other thing is that we need to differentiate. And the key to our success, our future is differentiation.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to remind retailers, manufacturers and vendors the reason we originally got into this business was a deep-seated passion for something that we believed in. So as we think about differentiation, we need to keep it authentic to our company’s vision… to our industry’s vision.

“Each and every one of us has an opportunity to make a difference every single day, not only to our industry but to our communities and the people that we work with,” he added. “Please reintroduce yourself to the passion that originally got you into this because it’s not chasing the dollar, it’s not the differentiation, it’s the passion that we continue to bring to what we do every day that will let us continue to thrive in the future.”

Dean’s Natural Foods has locations in Ocean, Shrewsbury, Basking Ridge and Chester, N.J.