Whole Foods asks suppliers to lower prices

Last week, the Marine Stewardship Council revoked its sustainability certification for the Gulf of Maine fishery, prompting Whole Foods to pause its purchases of Maine lobster. (Getty Images)

Whole Foods asked suppliers in a recent meeting to lower prices on packaged foods 

The Wall Street Journal viewed a recording of a meeting in December between Whole Foods and its suppliers in which the Amazon-owned company said it wanted its suppliers to lower its prices so that it could lower its own prices.

Grocery prices at Whole Foods and other markets have increased over the past year as inflation has risen. Supplies bought by grocery stores can increase due to a number of factors, including rising fuel, feed and transport costs.

In the meeting viewed by the Journal, Whole Foods center store Senior Vice President of Merchandising Alyssa Vescio argued that suppliers needed to lower their costs so that Whole Foods could lure in customers considering other options given the price hikes over the last year-plus.

Vescio said Whole Foods customers have been “weighing the impacts of inflationary pressure on their buying choices.” 

Commerce Department data released Friday showing that inflation is slowing down in the U.S.

But even with overall inflation rates starting to trend downward, grocery prices still continue to climb, rising 11.8 percent in December from a year ago compared to 12 percent in November and 12.4 percent in October, according to the Labor Department. 

That does show a decline, but the overall price hike for groceries has been steeper than the general rate of inflation. The rate of inflation stood at 6.5 percent in December.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told the Journal that the company has worked over the past year to absorb rising costs with methods such as offering promotions and work with suppliers in an effort to offset the impact of inflation costs on customers. 

The spokesperson also said that the supermarket chain has lowered prices on some store items, including cereal, bread and sparkling water, noting that their rate of price increases is lower than the industry averages and that the company will remain committed to having store prices reflect easing inflation, the Journal reported. 

The Hill has reached out to Whole Foods for comment.

Tags Federal Reserve food inflation Food prices inflation inflation rates Labor Department Whole Foods Market Inc.

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