Happening Today: Amazon lowers prices on popular Whole Foods items

Amazon Fresh Meal Kit

"Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality", Jeff Wilke, chief executive of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said last week after regulators approved the $13.7 billion takeover.

Shoppers will find lower prices at Whole Foods stores, including seven in the Twin Cities, starting today when Amazon closes on its nearly $14 billion acquisition of the grocery chain.

The purchase of $13.7 billion by the tech giant of Whole Foods sent big warnings through the supermarket industry of $800 billion in the US earlier this year. Amazon is also expanding its physical bookstores across the country.

Customers are seeing price cuts as high as 43 percent on certain items.

In a August 24 press release, Amazon and Whole Foods said they would bring "more in-store benefits and lower prices for customers over time as the two companies integrate logistics and point-of-sale and merchandising systems". Well, only if Amazon slashes those Whole Foods prices considerably, spreads like wildfire, and cuts wages for Whole Foods employees.

Coleen Knight of Guilderland said she was "pleasantly surprised" by the price cuts at the store on Monday. But maintaining the "Whole Paycheck" moniker would go against what Amazon sees as a way to draw in a larger demographic beyond the affluent shoppers Whole Foods typically attracts. With 10 percent of the stores, Whole Foods appear to be selling more groceries per store than Walmart, pricey or not. A Piper Jaffray survey from Spring 2016 found that 365 is shoppers' favorite organic-food brand, ahead of premium names such as Kellogg's-owned Kashi and General Mills' Annie's.

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Whole Foods' private-label groceries will later be available for delivery through Amazon Fresh, Prime Now, and other Amazon programs.

"Just bringing it to price parity doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win [shoppers] back", Feldman said.

Whole Foods now represents less than 2% of the overall grocery market. "But with Amazon lowering Whole Foods' prices, you could get Whole Foods in towns where you don't traditionally see them", supermarket analyst David J. Livingston said. "If they lower price significantly, they'll have to overcome a major hurdle with maintaining the quality".

The in-store signage also has a "Whole Foods Market + Amazon" logo on it, marking the companies' merger and pointing to future benefits to come.

Amazon said those changes were just the beginning, but didn't give details on what more is coming.

Maarten van Tartwijk, a spokesman for Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch retailer that owns the Stop & Shop chain in the U.S., said the company has invested heavily in its online operation. And to the extent Prime members can grow will allow Amazon to keep Whole Foods' prices lower, thus maintaining its leadership position in foods. "We can't wait to start showing customers what's possible when Whole Foods Market and Amazon innovate together".

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