Shoppers react to lower Whole Foods prices

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

John Schoeniger likes a good avocado.

The Detroiter paid less for three of them Monday at the Whole Foods Market in Midtown after Amazon began cutting prices on the fruit and several other best-selling staples following its takeover of the organic grocer.

“I got some nice avocados for $1.49, which is still more expensive than Mexicantown, but I think they were $1.99 last week,” Schoeniger said.

The price reduction of items including bananas, apples, eggs and some meats comes as Amazon completed its $13.7 billion takeover of the grocer on Monday. In addition to lowering prices, Amazon plans to offer its Amazon Prime rewards program for Whole Foods customers.

Schoeniger, who is 60, said he’s found the pricing at Whole Foods to be an acceptable value.

“I don’t mind paying a little bit extra,” he said. “I’m conscious about organic things and things being a little healthier. I understand that might cost a little bit extra.”

He said he’s not concerned about the quality of food decreasing with the takeover.

“I think Amazon is probably more efficient because they’re so big,” he said. “They have a vast reach. That’s the hope anyway... I think it’s good for the community to have access to this quality of produce and to pay even less for it is tremendous.”

Amazon says it will lower prices on items including organic responsibly farmed salmon and tilapia, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal welfare-rated 85-percent lean ground beef and organic rotisserie chicken.

Richard Vincent, 43, said he calls the organic grocer “Wonderful Foods,” while his wife calls it “Whole Paycheck,” referring to the chain’s reputation for high prices. The Detroit resident said he’s found pricing to be fair.

“I’m not an economist, but I know a lot of times the comparisons aren’t apples to apples,” Vincent said.

“Unfortunately, Detroit doesn’t have the best grocery stores, I can’t use that as a comparison to a Whole Foods because I know the quality of food is just not... They’re not looking for wholesome food that I’m aware of.”

Vincent said he would be disappointed if quality slipped.

Robin Adams, 59, of Detroit, said she didn’t notice lower prices for the items she purchased on Monday. While the Amazon takeover surprised her, she said she understands.

“You have to keep up with the competition,” she said. “Kroger and Meijer, Walmart and all of them. We understand that. I’m surprised. I thought Whole Foods was doing OK by itself. Amazon is taking over a whole lot of stuff. What are you going to do?”

Adams, who shops at the store a couple times a month, says she finds the prices to be a little high and she would like to see price reductions and sales on more items.

“You would get more shoppers,” she said.

Twitter: CWilliams_DN