Three weeks from today the Southeast Produce Council 2018 Southern Exposure Expo and Tradeshow will be underway in Tampa, FL, with some 2500 attendees there to find out about the latest and greatest goings on in the Southeastern produce industry.
Southern Exposure is legendary for networking and educational opportunities, Attendees have also come to expect a big-time bang from the annual keynote speaker, and this year will not disappoint.
This year’s keynote comes straight from the headlines, with Whole Foods founder John Mackey on hand to talk about how the face of retail is changing in the wake of Amazon’s blockbuster acquisition of Whole Foods last June — and what consumers will be looking for when they make food purchases.
As our Countdown to Southern Exposure continues, we take a look at the history of Whole Foods as it transformed from a small Texas grocer founded in 1978 to an international $14 billion Fortune 500 powerhouse with more than 400 stores and 87,000 team members in three countries.
While devoting his entire career to providing shoppers with high quality natural and organic foods, Mackey has also focused on building a more conscious way of doing business. He led the company through more than 20 acquisitions, took Whole Foods Market public in 1992 and plans to grow to the company to 1,200 stores with Amazon at his back.
For 18 consecutive years, Fortune magazine has included Whole Foods Market on its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. The company was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health Magazine, the top retailer for seafood sustainability by Greenpeace and one of “America’s 25 Most Inspiring Companies” by Forbes. Fortune also ranked Whole Foods Market first in the food and drug store industry and No. 20 overall for the magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” list.
Most recently, Mackey has focused on returning to the company’s roots around healthy eating and lifestyle choices. A staunch advocate of healthy eating education, he laid the foundation for health and wellness programs for team members and customers.
Out of his respect for equity among Team Members, Mackey implemented a salary cap for all executives. He cut his own salary to $1 annually in 2006, and forgoes stock options and bonuses. He continues to work for Whole Foods Market out of a passion to see the business realize the potential for deeper purpose, for the joy of leading a great company, and to answer the call to service he feels in his heart.
Alison Kosik, a Business and General Assignments Correspondent for CNN, will serve as moderator during the keynote address. For a decade, Kosik has been reporting from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, providing live, daily reports. She also regularly fills in as a co-anchor on CNN’s morning show, “Early Start” and CNN International’s daily business show, “World Business Today.” Kosik earned a Fellow from the Scripps Howard New Media Fellowship from Columbia University in 2001. She also received a 1999 Florida AP Award for Best Spot News and was a 1993 Fellow from the International Radio and Television Society. Kosik received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science from The American University in Washington, DC.
The original Whole Foods was just 10,500 square feet and had only 19 employees. Now that it’s owned by Amazon, a new chapter is about to begin. Plenty has been said about what might change for the chain now, but here’s a timeline of key moments in the history of Whole Foods: