Whole Foods isn’t known as the place to go if you’re trying to save money. Founded in Austin in 1980 and now with more than 340 stores across North America and the UK, the company strives to provide “the finest natural and organic foods available.” Unfortunately, such careful attention to food quality and ethics often translates into higher prices on products — or, at least it did until now.
Yesterday in Detroit, the franchise opened the first of its three lower-priced pilot stores. The other two are set to be in Chicago’s South Side and New Orleans, and will open in 2013 and 2014.
According to Co-CEO John Mackey, the supermarket’s fresh business model is designed to expand nutritious food access to a range of economic classes: “For every penny we cut off the price, we reach more people who can afford to shop with us.”
While the campaign inherently speaks to Whole Foods’ high-end prices, Mackey dispels the idea that consumers need a healthy-sized budget in order to eat healthy and delicious food. “If you know how to cook and if you buy whole grains, beans, and produce,” he said, “you don’t need to spend lots of money.”
Thus the question arises: if you can afford quinoa, but aren’t sure what it is or how to cook it, are you going to buy it? The answer — and the success of the Detroit store — remains to be determined.