Whole Foods is making a big push to lower its prices amid growing competition in organic food.
But it’s not dropping prices fast enough to compete with rival Kroger, according to a recent store check.
We compared the prices of 31 items at a Whole Foods store in Glen Allen, Virginia to an identical set of items at a nearby Kroger store.
The Whole Foods basket was about $US60 more expensive than the total at Kroger.
The bills came to $US191.41 at Whole Foods and $US131.89 at Kroger, after we accounted for the products’ varying package sizes and calculated those differences into the final price.
We weren’t expecting this big of a price discrepancy between the two stores, especially since Whole Foods has been promising to lower its prices.
The biggest cost differences we found at each retailer were between the coconut oil, fresh whole turkeys, fruit, and salmon.
Whole Foods’ coconut oil and farm-raised Atlantic salmon was twice as expensive as Kroger’s, and a 10-pound turkey was $US7 more expensive at Whole Foods.
Meanwhile, organic red seedless grapes were $US1.50 cheaper per pound at Kroger and bananas were $US0.20 cheaper per pound.
Seven of the items we compared were from the same exact brands.
For example, Justin’s classic almond butter was $US0.50 more expensive at Whole Foods compared to Kroger and No Yolks egg noodles were nearly $US2 more expensive at Whole Foods, as well.
Almond Breeze almond milk was $US0.50 more expensive at Whole Foods for $US3.49, but only one cent more expensive with Whole Foods’ two-for-$US6 sale.
We incorporated all sale prices at both grocery stores into our final estimates.
If items of the same brand weren’t available at both stores, we compared Whole Foods’ private label 365 Everyday Value brand to Kroger’s Simple Truth Organic brand.
Kroger’s Simple Truth Organic brand was cheaper than the 365 brand in every case. Kroger’s organic basil was $US1.65 cheaper than Whole Foods’ private label for a half ounce, for example, and its organic crunchy peanut butter was $US1.50 cheaper than Whole Foods’ version.
Whole Foods defended its prices, saying its products have strict quality standards that contribute to the higher costs.
For example, it noted that the salmon, beef, and turkey contain no added growth hormones or antibiotics. The company also traced the turkey at the Glen Allen store to a third-generation family farm that prohibits cages, crowding, and other practices that could be deterimental to the animals.
Other items, like the mayonnaise, contain no artifical colours, sweeteners, preservatives, or hydrogenated fats common in packaged goods, the company said. The olive oil also goes through a chemical analysis to ensure its purity and freshness.
But it’s not just about the quality of the food — some items, like the bananas, help fund student scholarships Whole Foods said. The conventional Costa Rica Columbia bananas, which are $US0.10 more expensive per pound than Kroger’s banans, help fund scholarships at Earth University, a nonprofit university in Costa Rica that recruits low-income students.
Kroger’s Simple Truth Organic brand promises some similar standards, such as no artificial preservatives, antibiotics, or growth hormones.
Here’s the full list of our results:
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