Friday, March 2, 2018

[STINKY NEWS] AtlantaFresh Forced To Shutter Following Removal From Whole Foods

In an incredibly unfortunate update to our post from this past November, AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery confirmed earlier this evening that they will close for good in about two weeks.  The closure, largely the result of of the company's removal from Whole Foods Market following their acquisition by Amazon last year, means the end of a nine-year run for the Norcross based business.  Despite attempts by AtlantaFresh to remain a going concern though new partnerships with both Publix and Sprouts Farmers Market,  among others, the hole left from Whole Foods Market was simply too big to fill.  
AtlantaFresh founder Ron Marks with his son Andrew

ToNeTo Atlanta was tipped off to the likely closure earlier this week when a retailer informed us that Atlanta Fresh informed them that they would be unable to make deliveries past mid March due to their upcoming closure.  

Our attempts earlier this week to reach AtlantaFresh founder and "Big Cheese" Ron Marks were unsuccessful.  Confirmation of the closure came earlier this evening via a message posted to the AtlantaFresh Facebook page.  

"After almost 10 years of making yogurt, we are so sorry to have to tell you that AtlantaFresh is closing its doors for business. 

You can stock up on our products for a couple more weeks. Call the factory for inventory and our retailers still have some supply. We'll be here on Facebook to answer any questions during that time.  

After Whole Foods cancelled its purchasing contract AtlantaFresh Creamery forced to shutter doors

In 2015, Whole Foods Market asked AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery, a Southern regional producer of grass-fed Greek Yogurt, if they would supply 100% grass-fed, certified Non-GMO milk and cream to a significant portion of the Whole Foods Markets nationwide (three regions totaling 110 stores). AtlantaFresh was induced to move forward with Whole Foods Market in an agreement whereby Whole Foods Market loaned the creamery $500,000 for expansion and signed a 7-year purchasing contract committing to purchase 30,000 gallons of milk per week. AtlantaFresh took on an additional $2 million in debt to build out their facility sufficiently in order to fulfill the contract (doubling the size of their facility). AtlantaFresh began fulfilling the contract in July of 2016. Fourteen months later Whole Foods canceled the 7-year agreement without cause in September of 2017, shortly after Whole Foods Market agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $13.4 billion. After having had AtlantaFresh products on their shelves for 8 years, Whole Foods Market removed all AtlantaFresh products entirely from their system, despite being made fully aware that it would very likely put AtlantaFresh out of business. “Whole Foods became our largest customer fairly early on. We were ecstatic about the relationship because they were very strong supporters of the local food movement and of AtlantaFresh,” stated AtlantaFresh CEO Ron Marks. 

Prior to the milk agreement, AtlantaFresh Greek Yogurt was distributed in 180 Whole Foods stores in 20 states. Hart Agriculture, the dairy farmer contracted to supply milk to AtlantaFresh, has also suffered severe financial hardship as a result of the contract cancellation. They have closed down Waynesboro, GA-based Newberry Farm, certified as a Non-GMO 100% grass-fed dairy farm. Whole Foods senior management spoke of providing a settlement in order to keep AtlantaFresh afloat but never followed through. 

Having been profitably in business for 9 years until this last fall, AtlantaFresh was recently forced to lay off 32 employees and will be closing their doors in mid- March."

Contact Ron Marks at for additional information.

Are you saddened by the closure of AtlantaFresh?  Have you noticed fewer local purveyors at Whole Foods Market in recent months?  Where do you do the majority of your grocery shopping?

Please share your thoughts below  


Anonymous said...

Amazon and/or WF needs to pay off that 2M of debt, as AtlantaFresh fully relied on WF fulfilling the contract, not backing out a year or so later.

CloseITP said...

Unless there is more to this story, shame on Whole Foods & Amazon for inducing a business to expand and then canceling. Though I will say, there was either a big flaw in the contract if WF was just allowed to walk away. Or Atlanta Fresh got a nice payout (hopefully that's the case).

Anonymous said...

AtlantaFresh made a mistake in relying on one large contract. They should have had an aggressive sales team lining up new clients. Even the Shark Tank investors would pass until they gained larger market share other than WF

jeff a. taylor said...

This should be a national story. Bezos should be ashamed of himself. And, frankly, Marks needed better lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Very sad indeed for AtlantaFresh employees and Ron Marks. Best wishes to all of them.

Amazon is a horrible company to work for and the information on them is out there. Why ATL and GA are prostituting themselves to bring just above slave labor jobs to this area is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to see hear folks. MEllennials worship Bezos, Musk and Soros and wish them to run the planet. Evil mentally inept tRump is the enemy. Move along, AtlantaFresh is just collateral damage. Shalom Ron Marks.

Anonymous said...

At this point, what difference does it make? Move On

Stacy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

So Stacy is for the big corporate sharks devouring & destroying the small entrepreneur family? Got it!

Anonymous said...

It's a shame this happened to such a great little company. Their products used to be one of the only reasons I would still pop into Whole Foods from time to time. I heard from a friend that used to work for Amazon that Jeff Bezos is a real piece of work. The man takes pleasure in screwing over the little guy. Why so many millennials idolize Bezos, and the other evil tech giant leaders, is beyond me. They treat everyone, including their own employees, like dirt.

Turner Wisehart said...

It's a sad story. Ron still has time left on his lease and I am trying to help him sublease it. Please email me if you know of someone who may have interest in a turnkey food processing facility in Norcross... approximately 12,000 SF. Perfect for a restaurant commissary operation, dairy operation, small brewery, beverage or juice manufacturer, ice cream manufacturer, meal kit provider or any other food processor.