Amazon Buys Whole Foods
In a stunning announcement this morning, Amazon, the online retail giant, is acquiring Whole Foods in a deal valued at 13.7 billion. That’s billion – with a B. As you all know, Whole Foods is the organic grocery store chain that I visit several times a week, and mentioned in my other blog post about eating plant-strong on a budget. This is a game-changer for so many reasons.
As Jim Cramer says on CNBC, “they will now dominate food within the next two years.” Why is this significant for us? “This is an earthquake rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told CNBC in an email. “We can only imagine the technological innovation that Amazon will bring to the purchasing experience for the consumer. Now, we can see in hindsight that its recent dithering around the brick-and-mortar experience, as an experiment, was only a rumbling of the seismic event in the offing.” (1)
So Amazon has conquered new territory with its deep pockets and technological expertise, and seems to be making a push for supermarket dominance, and Whole Foods gets to improve operations and cut costs, hopefully taking advantage of the opportunity to position itself ahead of the curve.
Ice cream castles in the air
For me, the whole shopping experience at Whole Foods is my nirvana. My friend thinks I am out of my mind, but walking into that store transports me to another dimension, with all the organic, fresh produce, displayed so beautifully, and knowing that if I want to eat plant-strong and green, that this is the place to be. There is just something about being there that makes me feel like I found my zen.
But — you don’t need a background in marketing to know that their marketing message is spot-on, from the perfectly aligned organic peaches, to the lovely bunches of bananas hanging there, as though they were just harvested from a family farm in Costa Rica. (Most of the organic food in this country comes from California). “Produce porn,” I like to call it – with mouth-watering melon and sun-kissed squash.
So I get the fact that I have bought into the “whole” lifestyle that Whole Foods purports to convey, no matter the price. And I love it. I love walking through the aisles in a granola-crunching, tree-hugging mindset, where the smells of jasmine and lavender waft through the personal care aisles. Makes me feel like putting on my denim overalls from 1975 and braiding my hair.
Will this acquisition from Amazon take my fantasy away? Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, Whole Foods has set itself apart and above the mainstream consumers of this country, leading us all to believe that only the “whole wealthy” can afford to shop there, furthering the divide in this country of the economically advantaged versus the economically disadvantaged.
Perhaps now, this will put them on a more level playing field, and lower the bar of shopping-entry for folks who wouldn’t otherwise walk in. Walmart and Target have stepped up their sales of natural and organic products, and more and more people understand why this is so much healthier than the conventional pesticide and chemical-laced alternatives.
Shouldn’t eating healthy, green and organic become the norm for this country, instead of an experience saved for people on the upper branches of the bean stalk? Even if buying organic is more expensive, maybe a shift has to occur for people to assign more value to what they eat — to have a different relationship with their food, and to understand the long-term consequences of eating sub-par nutrients, or no nutrients at all.
Anyway, at the very least, my hope is that this acquisition will serve to put organic and healthy foods at the top of the national shopping list. Just don’t take my organic cucumber water away.
What are your thoughts about this? Leave me a comment below!