Whole Foods Is Lowering Prices, at a Cost

Jennifer Liu
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Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Whole Foods

Whole Foods obsessives have done a good job of rationalizing slightly higher prices for products we love (MyChelle serums, anyone?).

For us, there’s good news and bad news.

The good: We may no longer have to part with our “whole paycheck” to load up on groceries.

The bad? These lower prices may mean saying goodbye to our favorite local maple syrups, trendy hummus or gourmet pickles.

Representatives of Whole Foods said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week (also picked up by MarketWatch) that it is focusing on bringing more affordable prices to shoppers by employing strategies often associated with big-box grocers. This comes at a time when other supermarkets are getting into the local and organic produce game. Kroger and Albertsons, for example, were reported to have seen annual sales of natural and organic foods increase by over 10% in recent years.

The main strategy Whole Foods hopes will buoy sales is forming a more centralized distribution structure, as opposed to current operations where 462 stores are divided into 11 regions. While the segmented system means each region can source from smaller, more locally sourced food producers, it’s also costly and can make it harder for distributors to work with the grocer on a national level.

Ardent fans will simply have to hope for a compromise — after all, 25% of Whole Foods shoppers said they visited the store to find a products unavailable anywhere else, according to a survey by Kantar Retail.

Until then, you might want to stock up on those Irving Farm roasts, Whale Tails chips and Koval whiskeys.

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