Amazon’s Whole Foods raises hundreds of prices, from ice cream to soap

Whole Foods Market increased prices on hundreds of food and personal care items in December and raised the retail cost of dozens of additional products this month, according to The Wall Street Journal.

When Amazon bought Whole Foods Market in August 2017, the grocery chain cut prices on high-volume grocery items including specific meat, fish, fruit, and dairy items. During the following 12 months, Whole Foods also instituted a loyalty program for Amazon Prime members with an extra 10-percent discount off sale prices.

The prospect of lower prices at Whole Foods Market raised hopes among shoppers that the grocery chain could shake its “Whole Paycheck” moniker. The recent price increases could revive the use of the sardonic appellation.

According to Whole Foods, increased operating costs have contributed to the bump in prices, but the company is still absorbing much of the overall cost.

“Like all grocers, Whole Foods Market has experienced increased costs from suppliers due to materials, labor and transportation, and we’ve absorbed much of the inflation,” a spokesperson from Whole Foods market told Digital Trends. ” Many prices have also decreased, and we continue to expand the number of promotions we offer to give our customers better value.  We remain committed to continuing to lower prices with Amazon as we deliver on our mission to make high-quality, natural and organic food more affordable and accessible.”

With higher prices ranging from 10 cents to several dollars, the average bump was 66 cents on a list supplied to The Wall Street Journal. The biggest increases are on soaps, detergent, oils, and nut butters. If you’re a fan of Dr. Bonner’s soaps or enjoy frequent Häagen-Dazs ice cream moments, be prepared to pay more for your pleasures.

There’s no mystery or hidden force behind Whole Foods’ higher prices, according to the grocer. Real world factors including higher packaging, ingredient, and transportation costs are behind the increases, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Whole Foods isn’t immune to the same market forces as other grocers. The company told USA Today in a statement that it “has experienced increased costs from suppliers due to materials, labor and transportation, and we’ve absorbed much of the inflation.”

Concurrent to the higher prices, “Many prices also have decreased, and we continue to expand the number of promotions we offer to give our customers better value,” Whole Foods said in the statement. “We remain committed to continuing to lower prices with Amazon as we deliver on our mission to make high-quality, natural, and organic food more affordable and accessible.”

Even with Amazon’s buying power, it’s unrealistic to expect Whole Foods prices only to go down or even remain the same. Grocery stores traditionally rely on revenue volume more than markup to make money. According to a report from AZCentral, profit margins at supermarkets average from one to two percent. Organic and gourmet food stores have higher margins than conventional grocers, but the “special” food stores still range only 3.5 to 6 percent average profits.

Updated at 12 p.m. to include a comment from Whole Foods.

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