Reaction to Amazon’s recently announced plan to purchase gourmet supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion has been mixed. Some say the deal could give Amazon an unfair advantage over traditional and online grocers. Others say it could benefit consumers via lower grocery costs and easy online shopping.
But we wondered how this deal might affect a specific customer niche: people who shop for canned goods, especially those sold under Whole Food’s private label line, 365 Everyday Value.
We asked two experts about what the future holds for canned-food consumers.
Shoppers will have even more canned goods to choose from
Many choose the 365 Everyday Value canned products because they are either certified organic or don’t include anything on Whole Foods’ “unacceptable ingredients” list.
There’s no need to start stockpiling cans of your kid’s favorite Organic Pasta Rings because you’re scared Amazon will cut back on the production of the 365 Everyday Value line. “Amazon wants to get into the game of selling every retail product on the planet, so they will either expand the 365 product line or start one of their own eventually,” says Jeffrey H. Dorfman, professor or agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia.
Brent Shelton, online shopping expert at Fat Wallet, a coupon and deal-hunting website, also believes Amazon may start producing its own line of food that includes canned goods. “Amazon likes to brand themselves in their products, like Amazon Basics,” he says. “Having ‘Amazon’ on a label doesn’t make me hungrier, but it does make me think I’ll save money and get a good value on the purchase.”
Canned goods — and other food — probably will become less expensive
“This deal is good for consumers of all food products, including canned goods, as it will lower the prices we pay no matter where we shop,” says Dorfman.
It’s happened before. “Walmart has been proven to lower prices at its competitors’ stores when it opens a new supercenter, and the Amazon-Whole Foods deal will have a similar effect,” Dorfman says.
Even those who would never consider ordering groceries through Amazon, or stepping foot in a Whole Foods, should benefit. “Competitors will have to lower their prices to compete with Amazon to keep their own current customers loyal.”
It will be easier and faster to get canned goods shipped to your home
Amazon already delivers some grocery items, including canned goods, to Amazon Prime members for a $5.99 per-box fee. In some cities, it also offers fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and dairy products through AmazonFresh.
Once Amazon has access to Whole Foods’ stores and distribution centers, Dorfman predicts, it’ll be able to deliver even more groceries to more people, without weight-dependent delivery prices — a major plus for canned-food shoppers. “Amazon already sells high-weight, low-value items like laundry detergent online,” he says. “With their warehouses spread around the country, particularly in more urban areas, they can get canned goods purchased online to a consumer as cheaply as a store can sell them off a shelf.”
If you’re loyal to another grocer, expect it to offer to bring your groceries to your doorstep too. “Don’t be surprised to see competitors step up their game on delivery services, especially grocers that have potential to deliver locally,” Dorfman says.