Whole Foods has long been labeled with the moniker "Whole Paycheck" for its remarkable ability to convert customers' hard-earned money into grocery bags full of their products. But that's not necessarily so, says Boston Globe writer, Rob Anderson. According to Anderson, who conducted a 5-store comparison, the retailer came out as cheap as other supermarkets and even less expensive on some items.
In anticipation of a new Whole Foods coming to the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, Anderson compared staple items at Whole Foods along with Massachusetts retailers Hi-Lo Foods, Stop & Shop, Foodie's and Shaw's.
Anderson bought flour, pasta, cereal, eggs, dish soap, milk and toilet paper at all five retailers. Whole Foods was only most expensive in two categories: toilet paper and eggs, and they were least expensive in milk. The total bill was highest at Foodie's ($17.40) and lowest at Shaw's ($11.58). Whole Foods total register ring was second highest at $16.70. Anderson does not clarify if any of the items purchased at Whole Foods were organic.
While many of Whole Foods private label (365 brand) items are less expensive than brand name items they carry, these selections are often not organic. It's a common misconception for consumers that most everything in Whole Foods markets are organic and therefore healthier, but lower priced non-organic items may be produced by some of the same manufacturers that make conventional store brands and can contain unhealthy ingredients. (Though Whole Foods does not allow GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or certain preservatives and additives.)
In post-recession times, and with gas prices again hitting the $4 mark, people will be looking to cut costs wherever possible. And though it's still quite easy for the register receipt to creep up near triple digits, there certainly are less expensive items at Whole Foods according to Anderson.
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