Thursday, January 15, 2009

Retail Memo: Fresh & Wholesome Market Fears Not A Whole Foods Market Monopoly; In Fact Part of its Competitive Strategy is to Be the Anti-Whole Foods

Fresh & Wholesome Market's newest natural foods store (above) in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey is winning raves for its design, product selection and special features.

FTC v. Whole Foods Market, Inc.

In this analysis piece[Retail Memo: Natural-Organic Foods and U.S. Retail Marketplace Realities; Why the FTC's Case Against the Whole Foods-Wild Oats Merger is Pure Folly we wrote and published earlier today in Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM), we described why the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is wrong in its legal argument and case that a combined Whole Foods-Wild Oats (Whole Foods Market, Inc.) is a monopolist retailer in the natural and organic foods retailing market in the U.S..

As part of our argument in the piece we sighted a number of regional retailers in the natural foods retailing class of trade that are strong and solid competitors against Whole Foods Market, Inc. post its acquisition of Wild Oats. We also discussed how numerous natural foods retailers throughout the U.S. are expanding their businesses and in many cases going head-to-head competitively against Whole Foods, not by accident but by design.

One of the natural foods retailers we sited in the story in New Jersey-based Fresh & Wholesome Market, and innovative multi-store natural grocer owned and run by industry veterans Joe Eroio and John Giuliano.

Fresh & Wholesome Market opened its fourth store just a couple of months ago in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Despite being only 10,000 square feet, the natural and organics grocery market is getting rave reviews from consumers, local natural products industry watchers and the local press for its design, product selection, unique aspects like an on-site nutritionist and in-house chef, affordable prices and other features.

Fresh & Wholesome Market currently operates four stores, all in New Jersey. The owners say they are on a growth spurt and plan to grow their business and store count considerably over the next few years. So much for fearing a Whole Foods Market monopoly for these multi-store independent natural foods grocers.

In fact, here's what a shopper says in a story today in, the local daily newspaper Web site for the region, about the new Fresh & Wholesome Market store in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey: "Thank goodness this (Fresh & Wholesome store) opened," says Lisa Burkitt of Summit, ordering from the prepared foods counter with her young daughter, Alison. "It’s great to have this nearby and not have to go all the way to Whole Foods in Union." (Ms. Burkitt is referring to a Whole Foods Market store in nearby Union, New Jersey, where she shopped prior to the Fresh & Wholesome store opening in Berkeley Heights.)

And read what Fresh & Wholesome Market's owners say about their stores in the article: Fresh & Wholesome’s owners see themselves as a contender against the natural foods giant (Whole Foods Market). “We’re probably the largest independent natural foods market in the state right now,” Eorio says. “But we’re still small enough to be flexible and listen to what people want.”

In other words, Fresh & Wholesome's owners not only aren't afraid of taking on Whole Foods Market, Inc. in New Jersey, the natural foods retailer is basing a part of its retailing strategy on being an alternative to Whole Foods Market, Inc. Interesting.

Read the complete story, "Natural selection: Fresh & Wholesome Market woos organic fans," at here.

This is merely one of numerous examples of retailers embarking on similar strategies vis-a-vis Whole Foods. They believe in the marketplace, and it appears in the case of Fresh & Wholesome Market its working so far.

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