When I first heard that Amazon was buying Whole Foods I was horrified. Well, first I was intrigued by the prospect of having kale delivered by drone. But then I was horrified. After spending $13.7 billion to acquire the high-end grocer, certainly the tech-giant would be looking for ways to cut costs. So, would Jeff Bezos’ company sacrifice the quality standards that Whole Foods has built its reputation on? Would the quality of produce be reduced to that of a Walmart or a regular grocery store?
The answer, thank God, is no. Both Amazon and Whole Foods are vowing to keep quality standards as high as ever. In fact, Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey put it bluntly during a conference call with employees after news of the sale was made public.
“They’re not stupid enough to go change that,” Mackey said when asked by a concerned team member. He then asked Amazon representative Jeff Wilke to back him up.
“We admire the quality standards of Whole Foods. And I think it would be crazy to change them,” Wilke confirmed.
Again, thank God. When I was 420 pounds, it was the quality that drew me to the store in the first place and what kept me there as I lost 265 pounds along my weight loss journey. Eight years later I am still a Whole Foods enthusiast and credit the fine assortment of local produce for helping me maintain the weight loss. A few years ago I had the opportunity to thank Mackey in person for creating the store. I was at a company summit in Austin, Texas representing customers for a few days. At the end of the event, Mackey stood up in front of the entire crowd of Whole Foods executives and team members and shared my story. I was touched.
Anyway, here is a full transcript of the employee Q&A regarding quality standards. Hopefully, if you were as concerned as I was this will help you sleep a little easier at night.
Whole Foods Transcript
So I’m very fortunate. I, every day, live my Whole Foods Market dream. I’ve been with Whole Foods Market for over 11 years and started in Chicago. And I got to do that really rare thing, which is work for Margaret Wittenberg— and, now, for Joe Dixon on the quality standards team. I feel pretty confident that your 90,000 team members this morning are wondering, what happens now with our quality standards? And I wondered— John and Jeff, if you could speak to that a bit.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey
Our quality standards are staying the same. We’re not changing our quality standards. They love our quality standards.
So Whole Foods Market’s quality standards are not— are not gonna change. I mean, there’s no intention to do that. We’ve got a lot invested in our brand. And these guys are really smart people. They’re not stupid enough to go change that. Because that would— that would be like, you know the pixie dust we were talkin’ about? That’s like the— that’s the death dust.
So they’re not gonna do that. And we’ve been— we’ve been assured. But over time, there could be other formats that evolve that— that might— wouldn’t be branded Whole Foods Market, potentially, wouldn’t be our standards. But the Whole Foods Market stores and our brands, they’re gonna stay all the quality standards we have, the integrity we have behind our products and our brand, those are gonna be intact. And they— and they don’t wanna change those things. I think— do I speak for you there? You should probably—
That was perfect.
Please confirm that. (LAUGHTER)
Yeah. We admire the quality standards of Whole Foods. And I think it would be crazy to change them.