Whole Foods details winners at PLMA Global

Three leaders from Whole Foods discussed the retailer's four 2021 Salute to Excellence Award Winners at the ongoing PLMA Global event.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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Continuing its four-day PLMA Global online event, the Private Label Manufacturers Association spoke with some of its 2021 Salute to Excellence Award Winners about their own brand products that earned the honors.

On Tuesday, PLMA spoke with three leaders from Whole Foods, as the retailer won four awards for its products last year. Heather Salzgeber, sourcing leader for exclusive baking brands, Hibiscus Rozuk, sourcing leader for exclusive body care brands, and Abbey Kaine, sourcing leader for exclusive body care and supplements brands joined PLMA for the discussion.

Whole Foods took home four Salute to Excellence Awards for its products released in 2021: Whole Foods Market Organic Umami Seasoning; 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Hazelnut Cocoa Spread; 365 by Whole Foods Market Mini Rose Hydrosol; and 365 by Whole Foods Market Leave-In Conditioner. The full list of 2021 PLMA Salute to Excellence Award Winners can be found here.

Whole Foods umami seasoning

“Our team saw the umami flavor trending and identified it as a spice option that would be good for our customers,” said Salzgeber, referring to the winning Japanese-inspired spice blend. “We were pleased to find organic mushroom powders and spices that we could blend together that resulted in a savory and versatile blend. Since the start of the pandemic, customers are looking for seasonings that will make their meals taste more like a restaurant-style meal. This [umami season] aligned with one of our top food trends, ‘basics on fire,’ which is any new take on a basic pantry staple.”

Whole Foods’ other Salute to Excellence Award in the food category was the hazelnut cocoa spread.

“Being able to offer a spread without palm oil and artificial flavors was a clear win for our customers,” added Salzgeber. “The indulgence trend that we saw during the pandemic led to this item’s popularity.”

Whole Foods won in the hair care & accessories category with its 365 brand Leave-In Conditioner Spray. The award comes in a category that is continuing to see private label expansion.

“We know that hair can be a real integral part of personal expression or identity,” said Rozuk. “This leave-in conditioner is gentle, ultra efficient and helps consumers achieve hair goals in a fraction of the time. It has a sweet coconut scent, a convenient spray option and it's really lightweight so it doesn’t weigh your hair down. It’s great for all hair types.

Rozuk added that Whole Foods’ hair care products are designed to be clean-label and environmentally friendly.

“Our experts review the latest research on beauty and body care ingredients, including possible impacts on the environment and human health,” she said. “We’ve banned more than 100 ingredients from our body care products and that list is evolving. We’re looking at new products to add to our [store brand] hair care set and we’re looking forward to sharing those very soon."

Whole Foods rose hydrosol

Whole Foods’ fourth and final award came in the beauty care and cosmetics category with the 365 Mini Rose Hydrosol, a French-made, less-concentrated byproduct of rose oil made for facial use.

“This is a really fun project to work on for me and my team as we continue to see a focus on beauty during the Covid environment,” said Kaine. “We wanted to offer something differentiated and organic. Some of our favorite uses for the hydrosol are an uplifting mist or facial toner, or you can use it as a substitute for water for your do-it-yourself beauty preparations. Lastly, we love this size because everyone is getting back to travel, and it’s convenient to bring on-the-go.”

For more information on PLMA Global, visit