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Whole Foods is sick of high prices, too — so it's pulling the Walmart trick of squeezing suppliers to bring prices down

Whole Foods
Whole Foods has lowered prices over the last several years to combat its image as an expensive chain. Now, it's asking suppliers to lower prices as inflation moderates.Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
  • Whole Foods is reportedly asking suppliers to help the chain lower grocery prices.

  • The Amazon-owned grocer wants to reduce prices as inflation eases, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Pressuring supplies to keep prices low is common among other retailers such as Walmart.

Whole Foods wants to bring prices down in its stores, and it's turning to some of its suppliers to make that a reality.

The Amazon-owned grocery chain told suppliers of packaged food products in December that it wants to lower on-the-shelf prices, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Food inflation slowed down at the end of 2022, and Whole Foods is trying to lower prices for shoppers as the costs of products flatline or come down, according to a recording of a summit for Whole Foods suppliers seen by the Journal.

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Whole Foods did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. A Whole Foods spokeswoman told the Journal that the supermarket has lowered prices on essentials such as bread and cereal and wants to make sure "that prices reflect easing inflation."

The pressure to lower prices mostly applies to packaged foods, the prices of which have tended to remain the same even when inflation plateaus, the Journal reported. Prices of many fresh groceries, such as produce and meat, tend to stabilize or fall when food inflation slows down.

Whole Foods' strategy with suppliers isn't unique among retailers.

Walmart, which is even more focused on keeping prices low, often puts pressure on its vendors when it needs to lower prices or limit increases. In November, CEO Doug McMillon told Sam's Club suppliers at a meeting that Walmart would resist their efforts to raise prices, according to the Journal.

Last year, Whole Foods raised prices on some packaged food brands, especially upstart products, Insider reported in October. The increases did reflect the rising costs of transportation and other inflation-related items, though food industry sources told Insider that many of the increases also padded Whole Foods' profit.

The Austin, Texas-based grocery chain has lowered prices on multiple occasions since it was acquired by Amazon in 2017. The price cuts have tried to counter Whole Foods' reputation as an expensive place to shop for groceries.

Amazon also operates Amazon Fresh stores, which tend to offer lower-price products than Whole Foods locations. But there are signs that Amazon has paused openings of new Amazon Fresh locations, while openings of new Whole Foods stores are set to accelerate.

Read the original article on Business Insider