@WholeFoods? Cost-conscious? Say wha? http://ow.ly/8qn0O

12 Jan

The Whole Foods press release copy was pretty trite (“Frugal is the new black!”*) for this post about America’s cost-conscious consumption. But the actual content—findings from a WF-commissione survey of American’s shopping habits—was pretty striking. The poll of 2,100 Americans in August found:

  • 74 percent wouldn’t compromise on the quality of the food they buy
  • 82 percent said current food prices have affected their grocery shopping
  • 75+ percent said they have changed their cooking and eating habits due to the economy
  • 57 percent reported that they eat dinner at home and eat out less often

Even more fascinatingly, in a four-city snapshot comparison between Whole Foods and local competitors, Whole Foods—on a market basket of 14 staples—beat out regular grocery stores on price.

Careful shoppers know this, of course. As I explore in The American Way of Eating, all grocery stores play with their pricing, taking a loss on some items and making a killing on others; its basic marketing. If one knew Whole Foods’ prices well, it would be very easy to design a market basket that was cheaper than at their competitors, which might explain why frozen strawberries (not fresh) and romaine hearts (not heads) sit on the list.

The other thing that struck me is another trend I noticed while working at Walmart to report the book: The dominance of private-label brands, which have mushroomed in recent years.

The biggest news from Whole Foods’ little survey, though, is that it sounds like Americans already care an awful lot about their food,. and say that price matters. That’s a far more realistic picture of our meals, I think, than we’ve seen in the past, and I, for one, am glad to see it.

*Can someone please do a video about two “New Blacks” (which sounds awful, like an obscure legacy of apartheid) having a smackdown about who is the REAL new black. Discuss.

One Response to “@WholeFoods? Cost-conscious? Say wha? http://ow.ly/8qn0O”

  1. noëlle January 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    74% say they “wouldn’t compromise on quality” for the sake of a cheaper price?? Yet how many of those people buy 99-cents-per-lb chicken on a regular basis (for example)? I suppose quality is in the eye of the beholder. And then about the same percentage say that current prices and the economy have affected their shopping habits. Does this mean they’re cutting out non-essentials like chips and other snack food, or that they’re buying less of the more expensive items like fresh meats, dairy and produce?

    On a side note, I wish more middle-class Americans were aware of the fact that our food is among the cheapest of any industrialized nation, and that most Europeans spend about 35% of their income on food versus our ~20%- it might put things in perspective when they’re complaining about how expensive things are.

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