Some Whole Foods employees are instigating a union drive, according to a letter leaked to the press Thursday. Citing layoffs and falling morale since the company’s 2017 acquisition by Amazon, the workers plan to push for higher wages and better benefits.
Mergers, tech companies, and private equity ownership are reshaping the grocery retail sector, as a continued wave of consolidation threatens smaller chains and their employees.
Since its acquisition by Amazon in August, Whole Foods has implemented some changes that are causing its suppliers to worry. Among them are centralized buying, higher charges for placement in certain sections of the store, and a new inventory system.
Amazon announced last week that it would begin two-hour delivery of Whole Foods products for Prime members in select markets. The announcement came just before the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is preparing to introduce an in-house delivery service, which would compete with FedEx and UPS.
Despite rumors of cheaper groceries, prices at Whole Foods have only decreased by 1.2 percent overall after Amazon bought the company for $13.7 billion five weeks ago, says a study by the research firm Gordon Haskett.
The market for plant-based foods grew an average of 8.1 percent last year, compared to a decline of 0.2 percent for all other foods, according to data compiled by the retail sales research group, Nielsen. According to the report, which was funded by the The Good Food Institute and Plant Based Foods Association, the market for plant-based meats specifically rose 6 percent from a year ago, while plant-based dairy alternatives saw 20 percent growth. Nielsen found a 5-percent decrease in cow-milk sales, but a 3.1-percent increase in sales of plant-based milk.
Amazon is lowering prices on a few items at its newly acquired Whole Food’s stores, but that doesn’t mean the grocery retailer will become the best bargain in town quite yet or that other companies will feel pushed to lower their prices too. “Shoppers shouldn’t expect a price war to break out,” …
Amazon can proceed with its purchase of Whole Foods after getting the green light from the Federal Trade Commission, which determined that the deal will not reduce competition in the grocery sector. The FTC announced its decision hours after Whole Foods’ stockholders approved the $13.7 billion transaction, said CNBC.
People who shop at Whole Foods expect to get higher-quality food in exchange for paying significantly higher prices. But when it comes to poultry and meat, at least, consolidation in the industry and broadly rising standards mean the same products that Whole Foods sells are increasingly available at conventional supermarket chains for a lot less money, reports Bloomberg.
After buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, Amazon will meet this week with organic ranchers to discuss how the company might distribute their meat, says Reuters. One of the ranches, White Oak Pastures from Blufton, Georgia, sells $2 million annually online of frozen beef, duck and lamb, but is hopeful that teaming up with Amazon will improve its reach.