The Amazon purchase of Whole Foods ("WF") is a strategic move to compete with the mega giant, Walmart, and will be interesting to watch.
BUT, when you compare the WF brand/offering with that of Walmart, chances are WF consumers will lose.
Farming and food laws have to change before WF consumers and local farmers don't lose in this new scenario. These very laws are why WF brand is linked to "whole paycheck." In this country we have allowed fresh food to become more expensive that it should be by giving favor to farmers producing corn and cheap crops.
The result of this decision to place profit over producing what can combat our country's obesity/diabetes problem has a domino effect, starting with the fact local farmers struggle, land has been sold to developers, and the big farming companies (known to grow food inside and use artificial lights and chemicals to mass produce) thrive.
Without understanding what they are eating, consumers have been losing for some time.
When WF came about in the '80s, they were providing what a small segment of society who were committed to eating naturally -- avoiding the processed food trend that was growing in the U.S. Now, that way of viewing food - as preventative "medicine" and fuel to greater quality of living and exercise performance - has not only been scientifically proven, but also mainstream.
Hence, why people will pay more... and if doing so will bring back local farms and support local fisheries (plus the life-giving food they produce), all the better. This is why the WF brand and business has exploded despite the costs.
(And it tastes better too. Ever have a farm-raised fried chicken over the alternative... even the Colonel's Chicken? Night and day.)
The idea of adding (Amazon) delivery and lowering costs are great... however, let's be clear: This purchase isn't about WF getting a delivery system. It's about Amazon beating Walmart profits, which would undoubtedly be a landmark move in the world of business.
What about the consumer... who depends on WF to deliver organic, natural food choices DESPITE an industry working against such clarity?
How do you go from quality to fruits and vegetables losing their taste, nutrients, health benefits? If the WF brand loses all it has been delivering in quality, the equity it has generated over the last 20+ years will disappear. Convenience is one thing; but, the Walmart food shopper isn't the WF food shopper.
No doubt Amazon can make WF a success story ...IF it invests in ways that protect the little guy. BUT, that is counter to Amazon's reputation in many sectors, including publishing.
(Recall Steven Colbert's hysterically funny commentary about the lengths Amazon will go to squeeze out the little guy's bottom-line?)
Unfortunately, this transaction is likely to hamper with the ecosystem WF has created with local farmers and health-conscious consumers. If that is the case, it will be a sad day where financials and strategy won over best interest of consumers. Unfortunately, in the process the WF brand that has been a bright light for many may just suffer in the process.
(I just hope I'm wrong.)
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