Although Whole Foods has often been referred to as ‘Whole Paycheck’—a reference to what many say are the organic supermarket's outlandish prices—all that may soon be coming to an end.
With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market official as of Monday, the two companies say they plan on making the popular supermarket's natural and organic offerings more affordable, with an approximate price drop of about 15 to 20 percent on many items.
Whole Foods Market says it will now offer lower prices on a selection of popular grocery items across its stores, and the company promises more to come. In addition, Amazon has plans to integrate Amazon Prime into the Whole Foods Market point-of-sale system, translating into lower prices for Prime members, along with some in-store benefits.
This is exciting news for Newarkers, as Whole Foods recently opened its first location here to much fanfare.
The organic supermarket is located downtown inside the elegant Hahne mixed-use building on Broad Street, home to several businesses and offices, including a Petco and Express Newark university-community collaboratory, along with 160 market-rate and affordable apartments.
Whole Foods offers a wide variety of organic and vegan choices, fresh produce and flowers, bakery items, beauty and health products, meat and seafood and prepared foods, along with in-store café-style seating.
Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Center, said that the company is determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone.
“Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality,” he said. “We will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards.”
Wilke said that best-selling staples will be the first products chosen for the price drops, including Whole Trade organic bananas; responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia; organic brown eggs; organic avocados, lettuce and kale; almond butter; animal-welfare-rated 85 percent lean ground beef, and more.
Ihsaan Muhamad of Newark said that, as a vegan, he visits the store on occasion for specialty items.
“I literally came here today just for the vegan pancake mix,” he said. “The vegan items here are the main draw for me.”
Sam Allaman, a graduate student at Rutgers who lives down the block from the market, said that although he has never been a fan of Whole Foods’ prices, the promised discounts could persuade him to become a Whole Foods shopper.
“The price drop makes me want to shop here,” Allaman said. “Before that, I could never justify paying $11 for an eggplant.”
The Kemps, a couple from Newark, said that it was their first time at a Whole Foods Market. They usually shop at Walmart of ShopRite, but are trying to eat healthier. Items like organic milk are something the couple will now be shopping for at Whole Foods.
“We’re attracted to the organic whole food,” said Mr. Kemp, who did not want his first name used. “There’s more of a healthy variety.”
The couple noted their initial surprise at some of the prices, but said they are, literally, willing to pay the price for healthier food.
“We’re willing to sacrifice and pay a little more to become a little healthier,” he said.
Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey said the market has been on a mission to bring the highest quality food to customers.
“By working together with Amazon and integrating in several key areas, we can lower prices and double down on that mission and reach more people with Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural and organic food,” he said.
“As part of our commitment to quality, we’ll continue to expand our efforts to support and promote local products and suppliers. We can’t wait to start showing customers what’s possible when Whole Foods Market and Amazon innovate together.”
Whole Foods Market’s private label products—including 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch—will be available through Amazon.com, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry and Prime Now.
Customers can also have products shipped from Amazon to their local Whole Foods Market store for pickup or send returns back to Amazon during a trip to the store.
With the acquisition, the company will maintain operations under the Whole Foods Market brand, with Whole Foods Market maintainig its headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Founded in 1978, Whole Foods Market is the first national “Certified Organic” grocer, bringing in approximately $16 billion in sales last year.
Whole Foods has more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The Newark location is its 19th store in New Jersey.