Whole Foods may never shed its ‘Whole Paycheck’ nickname after all: While prices at the bougie grocer fell significantly after it was acquired by Amazon in 2017, those prices are now creeping back up, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to internal company emails obtained by the paper, Whole Foods has raised prices on more than 500 items since December, ranging from Haagen-Dazs ice cream to olives. The price hikes are being attributed to higher costs being charged by suppliers due to inflation, as well as the expiration of contracts for the grocery store to sell hundreds of goods at low prices. Per the WSJ, “Those contracts won’t be renewed, the chain said, and the increases add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a week in additional revenue.” The average price increase is 66 cents, but go all the way up to “several dollars” for certain varieties of the ever-popular Dr. Bronner’s soap.
A rep for Whole Foods provided the following statement in regards to the price increases:
Like all grocers, Whole Foods Market has experienced increased costs from suppliers due to materials, labor and transportation, and we’ve absorbed much of the inflation. Many prices have also decreased, and we continue to expand the number of promotions we offer to give our customers better value. We remain committed to continuing to lower prices with Amazon as we deliver on our mission to make high-quality, natural and organic food more affordable and accessible.
The company recently announced it was pulling back on its cheaper 365 stores, claiming prices at the regular Whole Foods stores are more affordable now anyway. Whole Foods introduced exclusive discounts for Amazon Prime members in mid-2018, offering them an extra 10 percent off all sale items as well as rotating weekly discounts on an array of products — but the discounts seem to be fewer and further between for non-Prime subscribers.
While Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods initially had rival grocers shaking in their boots, clearly even the omnipresent retail giant isn’t impervious to higher supplier costs. But it’s not just big business that’s been affected: Whole Foods’ relationships with small food companies have also been strained since the Amazon acquisition. Eventually, though, shoppers’ choices will probably come down to two options: Grow your own food or give Jeff Bezos your grocery money.