Half Paycheck?

Amazon promises to slash prices immediately on top items at Whole Foods stores

Amazon promises to slash prices immediately at Whole Foods stores

Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin
Whole Foods is slashing prices. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Maybe Whole Foods Market will shed its “Whole Paycheck” image sooner than we might have imagined. 

On Thursday, the Austin-based supermarket chain and its soon-to-be owner, Amazon, said they’re slashing prices starting Monday at the natural and organic grocer. That’s the same day the e-commerce company is expected to finalize its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.

For years, shoppers have half-jokingly referred to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck,” thanks to the grocer’s notoriously high prices. But Amazon, known for its super-competitive pricing, appears eager to erase that perception.

Amazon says that as a “down payment” on its vision for making Whole Foods “affordable for everyone,” the grocer will begin lowering prices Monday on a virtual basketful of top-selling items — including bananas, apples, kale, lettuce, ground beef, salmon, tilapia, rotisserie chicken, eggs, dairy butter, and almond butter — with the promise of additional price cuts in the future.

As part of that strategy, Whole Foods will add Amazon Prime data to its point-of-sale system so that Prime members can score special savings and in-store benefits. Eventually, Amazon Prime will become Whole Foods’ customer rewards program.

“The two companies will invent in additional areas over time, including in merchandising and logistics, to enable lower prices for Whole Foods Market customers,” Amazon says in a release.

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, says Amazon and Whole Foods are determined to make healthy natural and organic foods affordable for all consumers.

“Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality — we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards,” Wilke says. 

Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who’s remaining aboard as CEO, adds: “It’s been our mission for 39 years at Whole Foods Market to bring the highest quality food to our customers. By working together with Amazon and integrating in several key areas, we can lower prices and double down on that mission and reach more people with Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural, and organic food.”

Other changes to watch for:

  • Whole Foods’ private-label products — including 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws, and Whole Catch — will be sold through Amazon.com, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry, and Prime Now.
  • Lockers for pickup of Amazon merchandise ordered online will be installed at select Whole Foods stores.

On Wednesday, August 23, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods cleared two final hurdles: approval from Whole Foods shareholders and notification from the Federal Trade Commission that the regulatory agency wouldn’t further scrutinize the deal.

Whole Foods’ headquarters will remain in Austin, according to Amazon. Seattle-based Amazon occupies offices in North Austin’s Domain development and has an order-filling warehouse in San Marcos.