What the heck, Whole Foods/Amazon?

A friend of ours, who is getting her Masters in urban planning with a focus on food systems (you go, girl!) texted us the other day to share this a Business Insider article:
“What the heck Whole Foods/Amazon?!”

Business Insider has reported that “Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal’: Employees say Whole Foods is using ‘scorecards’ to punish them.” The store is now using an inventory management system more similar to that of a regular food store, but no one understands it yet. “ Employees say the system has crushed morale and led to widespread food shortages.”

Friend #2:
“Amazon has decreased the prices at Whole Foods and kept the quality. Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet are now trying to change how we get health insurance.”

Friend #1:
“True, but their labor practices are harsh. Also how long before Amazon owns everything and consumers have little to no choice? Its scary. Also I’ve heard their procurement of local produce has decreased, thats a big issue for me. I just think we should be supporting smaller retailers and not giving all our money to amazon 🙃.”
—- Yeah, I couldn’t agree with her more. Shopping at small businesses means that you’re more likely to be purchasing goods made nearby. We shouldn’t want to be buying food that is cheaper because it implies that pay wage and labor standards would also be diminished.
The text exchanges continued as follows…

Friend # 3 (who doesn’t live in Austin):
“Whole Foods still has the best selection of organic and I don’t have time/energy to shop multiple places although I kinda do. If they can keep the organic industry alive I am happy because I’m sure corporate wouldn’t mind killing it off. Choices.”

Corporate is killing it off

Friend #1 (studying at a university outside of Austin)
“Yeah. Thats fair, I’ve had a hard time knowing where else to shop, we don’t even have a co op here or really any other health food store here! Also I’m not trying to convert anyone – just like to offer facts. The organic industry is big $$ these days and even mainstream retailers are into it. However the organic label doesn’t necessarily mean what it used to even domestically (organic chemicals are sprayed and they are not necessarily less toxic, they just come from organic sources instead of synthetic). Hard to know if its even worth paying the premium for 😏.”

From the Business Insider article:
“The team members are really excited about” order-to-shelf, Whole Foods executive vice president of operations David Lannon said last year on a call with investors. “They’re really proud when they’re able to achieve that, which is lower out-of-stocks, less inventory in the store, being able to be on the sales floor talking to customers and selling more products.”
Several store employees balked at that claim. “On my most recent time card, I clocked over 10 hours of overtime, sitting at a desk doing OTS work,” a supervisor at a West Coast Whole Foods said. “Rather than focusing on guest service, I’ve had team members cleaning facial-care testers and facing the shelves, so that everything looks perfect and untouched at all times.”
I did some more research into what analysts are saying about the merger.
From the Austin biz journal: https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2018/01/19/major-changes-to-whole-foods-under-amazon-upset.html
“They range from a shift in how Whole Foods interacts with small-time suppliers to a new piece of inventory software that is cutting food waste but irking some employees and customers who must deal with product shortages.
Taken together, the changes are sure to raise concerns that Whole Foods, which started as a single natural grocery store in Austin in 1980, is losing some of its hippie ethos. “
“The Wall Street Journal reported in September, shortly after Amazon closed its buyout of Whole Foods, that the grocer was limiting how entrepreneurs could market themselves in-store. The Washington Post followed with a report Jan. 5 that Whole Foods was cutting the number of items suppliers could place on shelves as it stocks up on more national brands.
The Post also said Whole Foods now requires suppliers to go through an outside company, Daymon, to oversee their in-store marketing.

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