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Whole Foods Market Inc. has named Maren Giuliano as its global Whole Body coordinator.
She takes over from Jeremiah McElwee, who left the natural and organic food retailer earlier this year after 16 years in the position. Giuliano, who is based in Los Angeles, originally joined Whole Foods in 1997 at its Beverly Hills store as a member of its team at Whole Body, a department that carries personal care and supplements. She transitioned to regional roles starting in 2000 and was for the last seven years the executive purchasing coordinator and regional vice president for the Southern Pacific Region.
“If you look at the rest of the store, there have been really big movements around quality standards and sustainability. Looking at Whole Body, it’s feeling a little more stagnant than the other areas of the store,” said Giuliano. “Part of my job is to bring new energy to the area. We are taking a hard look at where that is going to come from. It is going to be about elevating the standards higher and the non-GMO initiative that Whole Foods is undergoing. We are going to be doing work on that end to make sure all of the supplements and body care are labeled non-GMO within the next five years.”
Whole Foods registered nearly $12 billion in revenues in the last fiscal year from more than 340 stores. Non-perishable goods accounted for a third of revenues — or roughly $4 billion — although personal care and supplements were only a fraction of that amount. Among the personal-care brands available at Whole Foods are Alaffia, EO Products, Earth Science, MyChelle Dermaceuticals, Jason, Derma E, Mineral Fusion, Dr. Bronner’s and Dr. Hauschka.
Whole Foods has thrust the needle forward for natural personal-care standards, introducing a program requiring brands to be transparent about their products containing genetically modified organisms by 2018. Previously, Whole Foods prohibited products labeled “natural” from containing 400 ingredients it identified as unacceptable, and stipulated that products labeled “organic” meet the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program or NSF International’s personal-care standard.
Aside from convincing personal care and supplement vendors that Whole Foods’ guidelines are worthwhile to follow, Giuliano’s leadership will hinge upon whether Whole Body can grow its business despite pressure from online competitors. “Going forward, we are going to make sure we partner with new and upcoming brands that will stay exclusive to Whole Foods and partner with our suppliers for services and products that will only be at Whole Foods that have high-quality standards or a mission- or cause-based element to them,” she said. “We are really going to work on products as well as services that make Whole Foods a destination.”