Amazon Charts Future of Food Shopping with Whole Foods Deal


Whole Foods, known for its organic and specialty food will continue to operate stores under its brand and will continue to be led by cofounder and chief executive John Mackey, the two companies said.

SELYUKH: Bernstein is actually a huge fan of both Whole Foods and Amazon.

The deal includes all 34 Bay Area Whole Foods stores. "Books are lot more homogenous", she said, noting that a hardcover Harry Potter book is the same at Amazon - though Amazon can sell it at a lower price.

Shares of competing retailers Kroger Co., Target, and Walmart all fell Friday after the deal was announced, while Amazon shares were up by 2.4 percent.

Companies in the food business, he adds, are also under attack from another recent entry into the US grocery pace, German grocer Lidl.

Walmart stocks dropped 4.6 percent to close at $75.27, while Target ultimately saw shares fall more than 5 percent, closing at $52.60. "Most of us like to see what we're buying, and it's a good store, but we just wouldn't buy online", he said.

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Whole Foods, which will keep operating stores under its name, said in an email to customers, that it will maintain the same standards under Amazon, including bans on artificial flavors and colors and antibiotics in hens producing its eggs.

"This will definitely make the market more competitive", she added.

"The conventional grocery store should feel threatened and incapable of responding", Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The New York Times said the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods gives the online giant a tremendous boost in its proximity to customers within 90 minutes or less. Until now, Amazon has largely focused its grocery efforts around its Amazon Fresh subscription service, which promises quick food delivery for online orders.

In the fiscal year 2016, the Company had sales of approximately $16 billion and has more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Several workers expressed relief and happiness about the planned sale, which came as Whole Foods faced pressure from hedge fund investor Jana Partners to improve results.

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Amazon, meanwhile, has been expanding its reach in goods, services, and entertainment.

The deal prompted jokes and semi-serious posts on Twitter about a space-age shopping era with Amazon's artificial intelligence program Alexa replacing cashiers and ordering drone deliveries of kale.

That, in turn, could help Amazon do better with pricing and promotions, branding and the overall store experience, said Robert Hetu, a retail analyst at Gartner.

Amazon is considering extending the cost-cutting effort with the no-checkout technology it's developing at its Seattle convenience store, "AmazonGo", according to the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. For example, Walmart has a "Scan and Go" pilot at one store where consumers can use an app to scan items as they shop and then pay using their phones, according to the JLL report. The shopper's Amazon account gets automatically charged. "That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods", said UFCW President Marc Perrone in an email.

The market reverberations of the announced deal traveled beyond the retail industry - shares of food companies like Hershey and Campbell Soup slid, too.

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