Amazon and Whole Foods…It’s All Good!?!

In case you have been living under a rock, Amazon just bought Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 Billion.

Not a bad days’ work for John Mackey who reportedly started the grocery chain with $45K borrowed from friends and family.

I have read a ton of articles on what this will mean going forward.  Much of it right now is speculation, but one thing is for sure–change is coming!

A Good Thing

Depending on your perspective (as a consumer, a food grad, farmer, retailer, food safety pro etc.) this might be a great announcement or it might feel like the end of the world.

Personally I am confused.  I keep bouncing depending on the article I am reading.  One side of me feels that it will make organic, healthy foods available to the masses.  This is a great thing!  Everyone, in my opinion should have access to the healthiest food, not just those who can afford it.

We (consumers)  have spent years slamming large food companies for making unhealthy food, demanding they change their ways.  Scaring mothers everywhere with news of cancer causing ingredients and ‘if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it’ advice.  Yet there’s a lot of people who don’t have a choice–they can only afford the cheaper options–even if they long to shop around the parameter of the store where the fresh produce lives.

With an ageing population, food delivery is an amazing option for those who struggle to visit the grocery store.  The near future may hold an opportunity for older folks to order healthy, nutritious food to their door at prices that they can afford.  Again, I like this idea 🙂

A Bad Thing

How will this ‘Amazonization’ of Food & Beverage affect those in the industry?  I just can’t wrap my head around this one. Wayne Roberts wrote a compelling article as to why this acquisition is more than disruptive.  Wayne details the negative effects it will have on those who actually produce our food and as a respected expert in his field, his perspective can’t be ignored.

I wrote an article a little while ago about my concerns over the younger generation and the future of food.  I mentioned my niece stating that milk comes “From the fridge”. Okay, so she was only 4 at the time, but when asked again, she said the grocery store….still not good!

Food is a human need.  Will this acquisition automate that human need beyond recognition?  What will be the long term repercussions for us as human beings?  Maybe I am just being sentimental but I feel like we’re losing something.  My gut is telling me this is wrong (bad, disastrous, OMG!) or maybe it’s just nervous feeling that comes with change?

Silver Linings

If the mission and values of these two organizations are to remain, there is an amazing opportunity here to educate and inform consumers.  This can be done way better than grocery stores can and do currently.

Amazon

At Whole Foods Market, “healthy” means a whole lot more. It goes beyond good for you, to also encompass the greater good. Whether you’re hungry for better, or simply food-curious, we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.

The Greater Good, that’s a powerful term and I am convinced that Jeff Bezos and John Mackey–while moving forward from an innovation and technical standpoint–would also hold true the history, foundation and importance of a healthy food system.

To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online – Amazon

Food GradsWith the global market share that Amazon has and the potential influence Amazon and Whole Foods are going to have over what people eat and how they buy their food–there’s an enormous opportunity to be the change the food industry so desperately needs.

Amazon says they are ‘customer-centric’ so I would argue they have a moral obligation to their customers.  A great ‘user-experience’ is well, great, but ‘Food’ is so much more important on so many levels (read Wayne’s article if you didn’t to understand the magnitude).

I envision an opportunity to educate and inform with every purchase.  An opportunity for consumers to connect directly with growers, processors, suppliers etc. An opportunity for startups and small businesses to compete for market share based on their product and their ‘story’, supporting their business growth and creating more employment opportunities.

Hunger & Food Waste

There’s an opportunity to address and actually fix some of the biggest problems associated with the food industry such as hunger, food waste and environmental issues.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!  (I think I may have stole that from someone 🙂 )

This industry is too important not to focus on the good that can be done and take action!

How can these two enormous brands do something amazing for the greater good of the Food & Beverage Industry?  I would love to hear your ideas and create some discussion.