Posts

Whole Foods controls the media

Since early spring, the foodie and business worlds have been all a-twitter about Whole Food's proposed takeover of natural foods competitor, Wild Oats (read the back story here).  The story just got even more interesting when the note Whole Foods … Read More

By / August 15, 2007

Since early spring, the foodie and business worlds have been all a-twitter about Whole Food's proposed takeover of natural foods competitor, Wild Oats (read the back story here).  The story just got even more interesting when the note Whole Foods was passing in class got intercepted by the teacher (aka, The AP).  The New York Times reports:

"The Federal Trade Commission documents revealed that Whole Foods planned to close 30 or more Wild Oats stores, a move that the company believes would nearly double revenue for some Whole Foods stores…

Many of the details in the documents, which F.T.C. lawyers filed electronically, were not meant to be released publicly, but words intended to be inaccessible were actually just electronically shaded black. The words could be searched, copied, pasted and read in versions downloaded from court computer servers.

Court officials realized the mistake and replaced the filing with a version using scanned pages of the edited documents. The Associated Press downloaded the document from the public server before it was replaced by an edited version."

According to the document, Whole Foods set rules barring food suppliers from direct sales with Wal-Mart.  Additionally, documents labled "Project Goldmine" predicted that the buy-out will send 80-90 percent of Wild Oats shoppers to Whole Foods.  Shoppers will then be at the mercy of Whole Foods who, without competition, can drive up prices even more than they already have.

 

This information leaves socially conscious shoppers in a bit of a conundrum – what do you do when a “good store” goes bad?  Whole Foods was founded in 1980 in Texas' progressive outpost, Austin.  In many parts of the country, they are a mecca of natural and organic foods amidst supermarkets that sell nothing but heavily processed frozen foods and Wonder Bread (sorry Wonder Bread fans – yeah it's pillowy soft, but you might as well be eating a napkin).  Their flagship store, and many other stores around the country run on wind power, and their CEO, John Mackey, is a vegan.  But Mackey is also a shrewd businessman who follows many of the same rules as his conglomerate competitors.  Of course Whole Foods has every right to grow, as any corporation needs to – but to do it at the expense of customers and the vitality of the larger natural food and organic foods market?  I expect more from a company that charges $9/pound for organic green peppers.

Read Whole Foods' response to the situation here.

Tagged with: