Posted: 09/10/2017

Whole Foods price cutting begins as Amazon completes takeover

The new Amazon display in Whole Foods Kensington.

Amazon is committed to discounting lines in the UK stores of the recently-acquired Whole Foods Market – a move that has “frightening” ramifications for the speciality food sector.

The internet retailing colossus completed its £10.8bn acquisition on 28th August with the promise that it would “pursue the vision of making Whole Foods Market’s food affordable for everyone”.

Whole Foods Market began offering lower prices on a selection of best-selling grocery staples across its nine UK stores immediately after Amazon completed the deal.

Discounted lines include bananas, avocados, eggs, salmon, baby kale, baby lettuce, animal welfare-rated lean minced beef, Gala apples, free-range rotisserie chicken and organic butter.

Nigel Chandler, who manages Garson’s Farm Shop in Esher, Surrey, said Amazon’s ability to bring prices down and drive more people through Whole Foods Market’s and Amazon’s shopping portals was “frightening”.

Nick Hempleman, owner of Sussex Produce Company, said what Amazon is doing with Whole Foods Market is a continuation of the trend towards centralisation, homogenisation and “places becoming bigger”.

Consumers might like the fact they can buy cheaper but it will be suppliers that take the hit, he said., adding: “Unless something happens we could see a stage when we are left with almost no local retail.”

Lisa Grayson, director of Court Farm Shop near Cheltenham, where there is a Whole Food Market shop, agreed it was producers that would suffer and independents would not be able to compete.

But she said there would always be a place for “our kind of business”.

A selection of Whole Foods Market’s “healthy and high-quality products” – including from private label brands Fresh & Wild Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market and Allegro coffee — is now available on AmazonFresh across 302 postcodes across London and the South East, and on Amazon Prime Pantry nationally and Prime Now in selected areas.

Jeff Wilke, chief executive of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said: “We’re determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone. We will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards.”

John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and chief executive, said: “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.”

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