One time, Business Insider decided to go grocery shopping. They purchased 31 items from Whole Foods and 31 identical items from one of its biggest competitors, Kroger. The bill from Whole Foods was 45% more than the bill from Kroger*.
For this reason, Whole Foods has earned the monicker "Whole Paycheck." And it is also for this reason that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's complaint that his investors are too greedy is a delicious irony that we must savor together.
Whole Foods is in trouble. Revenues are falling, largely because other stores like Walmart and Target decided to jump aboard the organic food wagon. Basically, the grocery outlets that Whole Foods once derided as impure are now beating it at its own game. Whole Foods's free-range chickens have come home to roost.
One of Whole Foods's investors is not happy with the CEO's performance. Mr. Mackey's response? He told the magazine Texas Monthly that these investors are "greedy bastards, and they're putting a bunch of propaganda out there."
Let that sink in for a moment. The guy who sells products at a 45% markup over other stores by claiming that his food is cleaner and healthier and holier is complaining about greed and propaganda.
If Mr. Mackey can't handle the heat, then he should get out of the organic kitchen.
What's good for the free-range goose is good for the free-range gander.
He can dish out the kale, but he can't take it.
You get the idea.
The Propaganda of Whole Foods
Lest we forget the many transgressions of Whole Foods, let's review.
They routinely lie about the supposed superior quality of organic food, even though scientific analysis has definitively shown otherwise. They demonize conventional farmers, many of whom use (perfectly safe) GMOs and synthetic pesticides. They profit by encouraging people to believe the myth that organic farms don't use pesticides. They sell bottled water with an alkaline pH, apparently to profit off the ludicrous "alkaline diet" that claims a higher blood pH prevents cancer. And here are nine more lies that ACSH President Hank Campbell identified on a single Whole Foods webpage.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Whole Foods
As for the future of Whole Foods, Mr. Mackey said:
"[C]ompetition is a wake-up call. We are under extreme external pressure. It happens in any kind of evolution. If you think about species that go under extreme environmental pressure, they either evolve or they go extinct. Whole Foods Market is faced with evolving right now—or possibly going extinct."
If only we could be so lucky.
*Note: The exact figures were $191.41 and $131.89 for Whole Foods and Kroger, respectively. Even some of the products that were the same brand cost more at Whole Foods.