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Whole Foods grocery prices are on the rise — here's what customers need to know

Amazon promised to lower prices when it bought Whole Foods in 2017. Now some items are getting more expensive.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market is an American supermarket chain that specializes in selling organic foods products.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

This week, The Wall Street Journal unnerved plenty of grocery shoppers with a report on upcoming price hikes at Whole Foods Markets across the country.

While WSJ initially reported that supply costs for the Amazon-owned grocer are going up on “hundreds of products,” a Whole Foods representative told TODAY Food that not all of those new costs will be passed on to the consumer.

“Like all grocers, Whole Foods Market has experienced increased costs from suppliers due to materials, labor and transportation, and we’ve absorbed much of the inflation,” the rep said. “Many prices also have decreased, and we continue to expand the number of promotions we offer to give our customers better value.”

When Amazon first acquired Whole Foods in August 2017, the internet empire promised lower prices for many items, including organic goods and produce. Last June, for example, Amazon Prime members started getting an additional 10 percent discount on sale items and individual stores offered weekly deals on select best-selling items.

While this somewhat exclusive partnership upset some non-Prime members who weren't able to save, Whole Foods also expanded its range of “Everyday Low Cost Products” (known in the industry as EDLPs) after its acquisition, meaning that the price of many goods — including those from the store's 365 brand — was immediately reduced.

According to Motley Fool, however, those initial targeted-price cuts weren’t as big as some shoppers were led to believe. By September, about a year after Amazon bought the grocer, the cost of many items had actually risen 1.3 percent.

This February, Whole Foods said that it was forced to either raise costs or discontinue 700 products in its stores, due to expiring contracts with suppliers that guaranteed lower priced items. According to a company rep, the chain chose to stop selling half of the affected products and opted to increase prices on about 50 items — including Haagen-Dazs ice cream, several Dream brand plant-based milks and Dr. Bronner’s soap. Since Whole Foods stocks about 11,000 different goods, most item prices will remain the same.

Still, the news about prices creeping back up at the store often called "Whole Paycheck," sent some Twitter users into a tizzy.

But many noted that the costs of goods are rising at a variety of retailers. And sometimes, even the prices at so-called discount stores aren't really a bargain. A bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Orange soap is $15.99 at Whole Foods ... and it’s the exact same price at Target.

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