Posted: 08/08/2017

Amazon’s Whole Foods tie-up should not concern indies

AmazonIndependent businesses selling through the AmazonFresh platform should not be worried by the internet behemoth’s proposed £10.8bn buyout of Whole Foods Market, according to several industry sources.

The platform would be “crazy” to axe speciality food purveyors section and replace them with Whole Foods Market, said one consultant who has worked both with and in competition against Amazon.

The consultant, who declined to be named, told FFD that business, such as Paxton & Whitfield and Notting Hill butcher Lidgates, were of benefit to Amazon.

“They wouldn’t want to get rid of those names,” said the source. “Third-party sellers are part of their sales pitch.”

While any effect on the UK speciality market would be small and could take “some time to materialise”, the source said that purchase should be more of a worry for rival delivery businesses like US-based Instacart and the now defunct Hubbub.

Yannos Hadjiioannou, co-founder of Maltby&Greek, a supplier and distributor of premium Greek artisan produce, which has a presence on AmazonFresh, did not see the takeover of Whole Foods as much of a risk to the future of small firms on the platform.

“If you look at a lot of the products that Whole Foods has now, they are not picking up the best quality produce,” he told FFD. “The price point is very low so when they try to source, they are not sourcing premium, so they are not competing with the quality of local shops that AmazonFresh is working with.”

He added that AmazonFresh’s local shops & markets customers liked that they were buying from smaller businesses, like those from London’s food markets.

“If you are used to buying gest quality, are you going to settle for something else? You might out of convenience but you might insist they continue having the same products. I don’t think they will drop the local shops.”

Chef & Butcher co-founder Andy Jordon, which has a shop in London’s Marylebone and a new one in in Broadstairs, Kent, said AmazonFresh “has made it easy for small retailers to sell and have a big reach”.

It would be “a pain” if the Whole Foods deal resulted in favouring the US giant over smaller independent businesses, he said.

“But we’d deal with it. I haven’t got all my eggs in one basket.”

The only thing that would worry him is if Amazon was to use Whole Foods to flood the market and undercut everyone.

“But we’ve got the personal touch that they can’t provide,” he added.

This story was taken from the August edition of Fine Food Digest. Read more here.

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