Great news for those who love to eat but refuse to pay for Whole Foods’ offerings: the company is preparing to launch a line of non-Whole-Foods-branded markets for poor people.
The Austin-based company said on Wednesday that stores in the new format would offer a “curated” selection and have a simpler design to cater to people who want Whole Foods quality without paying Whole Food prices, particularly customers in their 20s and 30s. In other words, Whole Foods is taking on Trader Joe’s.
Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said that the company is building a team that will be dedicated solely to this project and that it is already negotiating leases to build a chain, whose name was not disclosed. He said the new chain could eventually be as big as the original 373-store Whole Foods.
Whoa, cool. Sounds great, right? (Insert analogy about buying the milk ‘cause you got the grass-fed cow for free.)
“It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great price,” Robb said in a statement. “We believe the growth potential for this new and complementary brand to be as great as it is for our highly successful Whole Foods Market brand.”
Emphasis mine. Because “fresh food” doesn’t necessarily mean “organic food.” It just means...fresh. Which is the same as saying that something is “natural.” Essentially, anything can be “fresh”—deodorant, bananas, chicken—just as anything can be “natural.” It’s an ambiguous word used to hype up otherwise average products, whereas the “organic” label is regulated by multiple government and independent agencies (and even then, it can be a slippery slope: some agencies are more prudent than others on what they’ll grant their seal of approval). And while not everything sold at Whole Foods is organic even now (nor do they claim it is), a large volume of their products are—and ironically, it means that sometimes, you can get a better buy on say, organic kale at Whole Food than you would another market that has a very small organic section because Whole Foods, as a whole (no pun intended) buys larger volumes of organic goods overall, often lowering the end price for the customer in the process (think of buying toilet paper in bulk, as an example for how that works).
But I digress: Whole Foods hasn’t officially said much else about their new offset; just that it’s in the works. Either way, I think you’d be just as good shopping at (insert name of whatever market you already shop at now); for me, it’s a mix of about 80% Trader Joe’s, 15% Whole Foods for things I can’t get there (like my beloved organic kale), and 5% local farmers’ markets when they’re in season) and avoiding the dirty dozen.
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