Whole Foods grocery stores are shifting their focus away from local products to make room for more nationally recognized brands in an effort to reduce prices in the 473 stores throughout the country. When Whole Foods Market Inc. was acquired by Amazon in August 2017, the brand traditionally had an image of being overpriced.
The Washington Post reports that a recent email to Whole Foods’ suppliers laid out changes intended to centralize operations and cut down on cost. While Whole Foods has historically allowed their suppliers to manage their own merchandising, the new changes will put limitations on the manner in which products are sold in stores.
The new guidelines now require suppliers to work exclusively with a single retail strategy firm when scheduling in-store activities such as checking on inventory and offering tastings. The firm will also create product displays on behalf of suppliers.
Suppliers are also being required to pay for the changes being made. For suppliers who sell over $300,000 worth of goods to Whole Foods annually, they will have to discount grocery products by three percent, and health and beauty products by five percent. Suppliers will now also have to pay for product demonstrations.
Many small businesses that sell local products through their neighboring Whole Foods stores depend on that outlet for visibility in the marketplace. Some vendors are already reporting negative effects because of the new rule changes, as they have relied on the traditionally free, in-store demonstrations to attract new customers.