Waking up to a headline like “Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.4B” is pretty good considering the alternatives. The news has been a whole lot darker lately!
Some “off the top of the head” thoughts:
1. We knew that an acquisition of WFM was in the wind. Numerous names had been floated as possible contenders, such as Kroger, Albertson’s (owner of Safeway), and Ahold (Food Lion and Stop and Shop). Just recently there were whispers that Amazon might be interested. As expected most of the suitors are traditional supermarket groups.
2. Just a question: What happens to the industry sub-category “super naturals?” The key names there have been Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (though I wouldn’t personally call Trader Joe’s “natural” anything…)
3. Amazon has been experimenting with a number of grocery channels: early on with Amazon Fresh, Amazon Fresh Pick Up (testing in Seattle), Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Go (testing in Seattle), and Amazon Pantry. Adding 430 full service “bricks and mortar” grocery stores to the mix will offer even more options.
4. Since Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post things have changed! “Bezos has completely changed the outlook of the 140-year-old newspaper. Its readership has exploded, and its content has become more suitable for the digital world.” (Business Insider) And the paper hired 40 new journalists in a world where the number professional journalists is shrinking fast. So what is on the docket for Whole Foods? It will be interesting!
5. We’ve seen Amazon disrupt so many segments of the retail industry – books, publishing, fashion, office supplies – and with no real experience in “on the ground” food retail, it will be interesting to see what develops. Online ordering and distribution of perishable food is a challenge, it may be the best model is a hybrid between online and offline retail in this case.
6. What kind of changes are we likely to see in the local and regional focus that Whole Foods was known for? Recently Whole Foods sourcing and purchasing began the process of consolidation, possibly moving away from the Local Forager concept and certainly away from the independence that stores had to manage their own product offering.
7. Will it be easier for smaller food producers to get into the distribution system or harder?
As the announcement to merge approaches execution we’ll learn more. It will be very, very interesting!
(Image source: NYTimes, Amazon to Buy Whole Foods in $13.4 Billion Deal)
Whole Foods on GoodFood World
Here are some of the articles we’ve published in the past about Whole Foods Market.
Whole Foods has been neck in neck for some time with Puget Sound’s PCC Natural Markets (the largest and one of the oldest food cooperatives in the nation), however the corporate structure of “whole” just couldn’t match the cooperative foundation of “real,” at least as far as good food principles.
Getting good food from the field to the fork is not a solitary occupation, it takes a team: farmers, food processors, researchers, and retailers. And discussions like the Seeds of Innovation: The Future of Farming and Food should take place more often and in more communities. It’s a must for a good food world.
Whole Foods Market is opening a new Seattle-area market in Lynnwood on March 15, and we got a peek behind the curtain at the controlled chaos going on before the grand opening. We arrived early for a tour of the new facility and dodged between trucks belonging to landscapers, electricians, and vendors. Inside we saw what looked like a laptop-armed battalion frantically tapping away at their keyboards and small groups of trainees in the check out lanes listening closely to their instructors.
We attended one of Whole Foods Market Speaker Series events; this one titled “Consumer’s Conflict: The Cost of Fresh Picked Produce in the 21st Century.” The guest speaker was Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland – How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. In the end, there was too much Whole Foods and too little discussion of the real cost of fresh produce and what to do about it. And we paid $40 to hear it…
Together Derek Sarno, Global Senior Chef and Educator on the Whole Food Market’s Healthy Eating team, and I explore Whole Food’s new Health Starts Here program and discussed how consumers can implement the program in their daily lives.
Whole Foods Market, four animal advocacy groups (including the Humane Society of the United States), and industry partners such as CROPP Cooperative (Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands), have come together to support the Global Animal Partnership to encourage better animal welfare practices.