>I already go by their stores! I've even left a message for their CEO. My
>next call is to 20/20, 60 minutes, or 48 hours. I'm drawing very near to
>making that call. I go by several of their stores on my Chicago delivery
I don't *know* that this is true with Whole Foods and Wild Oats, but
the increasingly usual game in the food business is the payment of
hefty "spiffs," or slotting fees to the chain. You want your corn
chips on the shelf and first it's gonna cost you big time to buy the
right to be on their shelves. One organic/natural soup manufacturer I
know told me it would cost $100,000 up front just to get on the
distributor's list. Presumably the distributors use that kind of money
to pay the spiffs to the chains.
Spiffs are becoming distressingly common in the produce business as
The problem is that there are a bazillion more brands of, say, corn
chips out there than any store wants to deal will. Distributors only
want to carry two to four brands of a product class on their list, too.
So who's gonna pay the most for a slot in the store, or for a spot on
the distributor's list? Those slots have become very valuable.
In the particular case of Whole Foods, their problem may be related to
their stock prices. WF stock rose pretty steadily as long as the
company could buy increased earnings by taking over other stores. Now
they have to actually *grow* their earnings by increasing the
profitability of the stores they've got. With most of their
distribution now handled out of Texas (including an awful lot of
produce) there's not a lot of room for anybody local.
Richard deWilde's smiling face will probably be hanging up over the
Madison WF produce section (and a token amount of his food on those
shelves) only so long as he retains value to the company as a "poster
Meantime, out in "conventional" marketing (as if WF and WO aren't
conventional in their approach) the farm price for watermelons has
dropped by 70% from the same time last year --- 10c/lb down to 3c/lb.
Strange, then, that iin the stores watermelon that could be had a year
ago for 29c at retail is now up to 39c on special and 49c regular.
I suspect that what we are dealing with in the food business, across
the board, is a total disconnect between the consumer and agriculture.
Consumers have no idea how low prices have dropped on the farm in the
last two year, and I doubt that a single one was aware that the
boneless ham they just bought sold for substantially more than the
entire boar from which it was made. Or that there is less than 20c
ingredient cost in that litre of soy milk, etc, etc.
An awful lot of consumers are fat, dumb, and happy, and wish to stay
that way. In such an environment the shenanigans of WF and the others
are only to be expected.
Farmers, find people who appreciate your food and work with them. You
can cut your costs mercilessly, but with a dime of the consumer's
dollar to work with you'e got no manoeuvring room. There's another 90c
out there on the other end of the equation, and the good folks at WF
will understandably be more interested in putting it in their pocket
than in yours.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: