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John Mackey of Whole Foods named keynote speaker for Southern Exposure

The Southeast Produce Council has announced that John Mackey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, will present the keynote address March 3 at Southern Exposure in Tampa, FL.JohnMackey-headshot

"We are honored this year to have John Mackey share his insights on how the landscape will change and remain the same with the Whole Foods and Amazon merger," said SEPC President and CEO David Sherrod. "This exciting keynote session should provide relevant information for all of our attendees, no matter what sector they represent."

Mackey has taken the natural and organic grocer from a single store in Austin, TX, in 1978, to a $14 billion Fortune 500 company and a top U.S. supermarket with more than 400 stores and 87,000 team members in three countries. In 1981, a flood in Austin almost bankrupted the original store, and community efforts to save it shaped Mackey's leadership philosophy to "do right by your stakeholders and they'll do right by you."

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 the company to 1,200 stores.

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.

Registration numbers for Southern Exposure 2018 are climbing quickly, so if you haven't already done so, you can register now at