Whole Hog

Is there anyone still shopping at Whole Foods Markets?

I turned on my heel and walked out several years ago when I attempted to buy a pound of lemons and discovered it would cost me more than my hourly wage.  But that’s me. I’d rather stop by our indy market on BeHi and have some money left for some beer and pork shoulder.  As Anatole France said, "in a Democracy, both the rich and the poor are equally free to starve."

Last year’s Michael PollanJohn Mackay slapdown was great reading for about a week, and then Whole Foods went back to their big business as usual.  Before you could say capital-driven market system, Mackay announced his intention to acquire Wild Oats.  The slapping of foreheads was heard around the world, but who was really surprised?  The guy is a hardcore Libertarian, a union-busting, Wal-Mart emulating, Ayn Rand enthusiast.  Oh, barf.

Mackay defends the deal by saying that there is still plenty of competition on the
organics market, so much so that there’s no need to worry ’bout a lil
old monopoly.  Who are the major competitors on the free market of
organics peddling?  Why, the newer and better Safeways and Krogers of
the  country, the guys who have been frantically catching up with organic markets for quite some time.  But the FTC isn’t buying it, and the source of their doubt comes from documents within Mackay’s own company: he never once believed that the bigger supermarket chains were going to catch up to Whole Foods in sales or volume, and he says it explicitly.

From Grist Online:
...the FTC wields a powerful weapon to bolster its case: Mackey’s
own pronouncements from before the Wild Oats buyout. Over and over
again in its 40-plus page brief, the commission trots out Mackey
himself to make the case that Whole Foods operates in a different
universe from its would-be rivals among conventional supermarkets.
While the FTC document doesn’t specify sources for the Mackey quotes, I
talked to a press rep from the commission, and he told me they come
from Mackey’s chat-room forays and blog, as well as internal company

In one instance, the FTC quotes Mackey as claiming that, "Safeway and
other conventional retailers will keep doing their thing — trying to
be all things to all people. They can’t really effectively focus on
Whole Foods Core Customers without abandoning 90 percent of their own
customers." At another point, the FTC has Mackey boasting of Whole
Foods’ "authenticity, integrity, and the power of their brand with
their customers. This creates strong loyalty from their customer base
— something Safeway doesn’t have and likely never will have."

Hmm.  Mackay, put down The Fountainhead and back up slowly.




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