AtlantaFresh creamery to close after deal with Whole Foods ends, CEO says

AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery, a producer of grass-fed Greek yogurt based in Norcross, is shutting its doors after nearly 10 years in business. 


According to a company statement, the creamery is closing because it lost a contract with its largest client, Whole Foods Market. The statement said the popular Atlanta creamery will lay off more than 30 employees and close by mid-March.

VIDEO: More on Amazon HQ2

AtlantaFresh yogurt had been on Whole Foods’ shelves for the last eight years, but the grocer removed all AtlantaFresh products from its system last fall, shortly after Amazon acquired Whole Foods for more than $13 billion.

Messages left for AtlantaFresh CEO Ron Marks, were not immediately returned.

In a statement, Whole Foods said the company is “always excited to bring new local products to our stores and customers, but, unfortunately, not all products meet sales expectations.” 

The grocer said it works with vendors to improve sales, but “despite our efforts, we are not always able to raise demand and we must occasionally make the difficult decision to discontinue products.”

The creamery’s products were popular with consumers, but a number of top Atlanta area restaurants also used AtlantaFresh’s products, and will have to find new vendors. 

Star Provisions was one of AtlantaFresh’s first clients. 

Star Provisions co-owner Anne Quatrano said that they primarily purchased AtlantaFresh yogurts, using the product in dishes and selling it on the shelves at Star Provisions and sister shop Little Star. 

Quatrano said that she is currently looking for another yogurt supplier.

According to the statement, Whole Foods Market approached AtlantaFresh in 2015 about supplying 100 percent grass-fed, certified non-GMO milk and cream to “a significant portion of the Whole Foods Markets nationwide” that totaled 110 stores across three regions.

As part of the agreement, Whole Foods Market loaned the creamery $500,000 for expansion and signed a 7-year contract committing to purchase 30,000 gallons of milk per week. AtlantaFresh began fulfilling the contract in July 2016 but Whole Foods canceled the 7-year agreement last September after only 14 months, Marks said. 

AtlantaFresh said the agreement was cancelled without cause. 

“Whole Foods became our largest customer fairly early on,” Marks said in the release. “We were ecstatic about the relationship because they were very strong supporters of the local food movement and of AtlantaFresh.”

Amazon announced its deal to buy Whole Foods in June. The deal sent shock waves through the retail world and was seen as acknowledgement by the e-commerce giant that it needed physical locations to grow its empire. 

Changes at Whole Foods so far have been subtle, but Amazon is known as an aggressive cost cutter, forcing vendors to squeeze their margins. 

Alon’s Bakery and Market is another longtime AtlantaFresh customer. The bakery purchased milk and yogurt for its locations in Dunwoody and Morningside. Alon’s owner Alon Balshan said Marks approached him back when AtlantaFresh was still in the planning stages. 

“[Marks] said, ‘I am thinking about doing a yogurt business, what do you think?’ I pushed him to go to the big guys, like Whole Foods,” said Balshan. “That tells you something about Amazon taking over. They threw this guy under the bus.” 

Alon’s macarons are also among the locally made goods that Whole Foods carries at 45 of its stores in the region.


AJC Business reporter J. Scott Trubey keeps you updated on the latest news about economic development and commercial real estate in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Record number of Thanksgiving travelers expected at Hartsfield-Jackson
Record number of Thanksgiving travelers expected at Hartsfield-Jackson

A record number of travelers are expected at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport security checkpoints on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The most recent one-day record was set over the Memorial Day travel period this year when more than 93,000 passengers were screened in a single day at Hartsfield-Jackson. Over the Thanksgiving travel period from...
Guns caught at Hartsfield-Jackson checkpoints this year have already set a record
Guns caught at Hartsfield-Jackson checkpoints this year have already set a record

Nearly 300 guns have been caught at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport so far this year, with a record number of firearms caught at security checkpoints, according to officials. The total of more than 290 includes firearms found in carry-on bags and improperly packed or undeclared guns in checked luggage. Last year, a record 245...
It’s official: Amazon picks NY, Va. and even Nashville
It’s official: Amazon picks NY, Va. and even Nashville

Georgia didn’t convince Amazon that Atlanta is the best place for the company’s second headquarters, missing out on tens of thousands of jobs, the nation’s biggest ever economic development prize and the growth headaches expected to have come with it. The Seattle-based e-commerce and tech giant made it official Tuesday, announcing...
Cactuses, street graffiti and thousands of sandwiches: The tactics cities used to try to lure Amazon
Cactuses, street graffiti and thousands of sandwiches: The tactics cities used to try to lure Amazon

The guessing game is over: reportedly plans to open new corporate outposts in Northern Virginia and New York, two already crowded metropolitan areas that are likely to become even less affordable with a new influx of tech workers. In some ways, the decision isn't surprising, as Amazon had made it clear that the company wanted to base its...
Report: Amazon chooses N.Y. and Va. for new headquarters
Report: Amazon chooses N.Y. and Va. for new headquarters

The New York City and Washington D.C. metro areas are splitting Amazon’s planned second headquarters project, according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday night. The official announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday, the media outlet said, citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”  Losing dibs on the tech giant&rsquo...
More Stories