We pay a lot of money when we shop at Whole Foods Market. Is it worth it? Here are five reasons why it sucks to shop at Whole Foods Market right now.
1. THERE’S VERY LITTLE ORGANIC FOOD
Whole Foods Market has recently toned down its language about the importance of sustainably-farmed organic food. That’s a shame, because I wish they sold more of it.
The juice bar at my local WFM in Los Angeles isn’t organic.
The deli meat isn’t organic.
The deli salads aren’t organic.
The hot food bar isn’t organic.
The salad bar isn’t all organic (only the lettuce is).
Much of the food in the produce department isn’t organic.
However, you can buy an organic rotisserie chicken, if you get there at the right time (I’m not sure what time that is) or if you one in advance.
Where’s all the organic food they want us to choose because I want to choose it?
2. THE SHELVES ARE EMPTY
Thanks to a new corporate policy implemented last year called “order-to-shelf” or OTS, Whole Foods employees must transfer stock directly from the delivery trucks to the store shelves. They cannot keep stock “in the back.” This means once an item is sold out, they must wait for another deliver before they can restock the shelf. The result is a lot of empty shelves, which means customers have to go without or drive to another store to get what they need.
Whole Foods says the policy lowers costs (but not ours) and reduces unnecessary inventory (like the stuff we need?).
3. THE HIGH PRICES
Yes, Whole Foods Market charges a lot. They always have, but now that the shelves are bare and they don’t sell a wide variety of organic food, the price gouging feels even more intolerable.
4. WAX ON THE APPLES
It’s a minor pet peeve, but we’ve gotta stop using food waxes. Almost 40% of food in America is wasted. A lot of it never leaves the farm because it doesn’t look good enough for us to eat (go to Save the Food’s site to learn more). Reaching for a shiny apple because it looks perfect doesn’t mean it actually is. Apples can sit in chilled warehouses for months. The wax is used to hide imperfections and wear and tear.
“It contains fungicides to inhibit mold growth, controls fruit respiration to delay ripening, protects from bruising while the fruit travels, and includes tints and glossy shellac to enhance a fruit’s appearance. Commercial coatings extend the life of a fruit so it can be picked, packed, shipped, and sold weeks or months after it left the tree—while still looking good in the process.” – The Atlantic
5. THEY’RE BECOMING EVEN MORE CORPORATE
Amazon just took over and already they’re already instituting some big, corporate policies, despite the fact that Whole Foods claims to be a “mission-driven” company.
According to The Washington Post, one of those new polices (which you can read about here) essentially requires vendors to pay for shelf space and in-store food demos. WFM says the new policy is “creating a consistent, high-quality experience that benefits both our suppliers and our customers.” But some think the policy will result in squeezing out the little guy.
Valerie Gray, for instance, began selling her pasta sauce, Italian Heart’s Gourmet Foods, to the Whole Foods store in Reno, Nevada, four years ago. For years, she said, the grocer allowed her to display 108 bottles of pasta sauce at a time. A professional photograph of Gray and her husband hung from the ceiling, alongside a sign that read “Made Locally.”
But in the past month, that photo has come down, Gray said, and the shelves now accommodate just 36 bottles of sauce as the store makes room for national brands. Sales of Gray’s pasta sauce have dropped by 75 percent in the past month, she said.
“It feels like that local, personal touch is going away,” she said, adding that Whole Foods accounts for half of the company’s sales.” – Chicago Tribune/Washington Post
WFM has “shifted many of its purchasing decisions to its national office” That means individual stores won’t be able to bring in smaller, and often more innovative, brands.
Is Whole Foods striving to be Kroger?” said Anne Howe of Anne Howe Associates. “One of the attractions of going to Whole Foods was to discover local and small-batch food purveyors and, in the process, enjoy something usually better than average grocery store fare.- Forbes
Soon, when you walk down the aisles of Whole Foods, you’ll likely see only the big name brands-brands that often package their wares in ocean polluting, and unhealthy plastic.
Phil Chang, a retail influencer at Hubba (a computer software company in the retail technology space), said that there’s a historical precedent for what happens to retailers who squeeze their vendors.
In every instance in which we’ve seen retailers adopt these programs, the ‘reason for being’ goes away and it becomes solely about profit,” wrote Mr. Chang on RetailWire. Welcome Whole Foods to the rest of boring grocery. – Forbes
Thanks a lot Amazon. It’s time for independently owned grocers and co-ops to take the lead and offer the healthy, organic food our bodies need. After all, we won’t find much of it at Whole Foods Market.
Feature image of Whole Foods Market courtesy Anouchka iStock.