Whole Foods has requested that its suppliers drop their prices on packaged food items in the face of inflationary changes for consumers, according to a new report.
The Wall Street Journal saw a recording of a virtual meeting from December between the grocery chain and suppliers. Whole Foods said in the meeting that as businesses see their costs begin to go down, it wants to lower the cost for consumers who are shopping at its locations.
“We know our customers are weighing the impacts of inflationary pressure on their buying choices,” Alyssa Vescio, Whole Foods’ senior vice president of merchandising of center store, told suppliers at the virtual meeting viewed by the Journal.
The outlet noted that food suppliers have pointed to the high prices of labor, production, and transportation, leading to an increase of their wholesale price tags. In turn, grocery stores have increased their own prices on items for consumers. Consumers have responded by not buying as much and pursuing less expensive types of items.
A spokeswoman for the company told the outlet that Whole Foods has taken steps to help customers with the inflation they are experiencing. She added that the mega grocery chain has also had a lower rate of cost hikes than the average rate across the industry. The store has also brought down costs on specific items like bread, cereal, and sparkling water, according to the spokeswoman.
At the virtual meeting, Whole Foods executives also said that the store would be doing more to bring people to their groceries.
While inflation went down slightly in December from November, the prices of groceries were still high and are projected to remain that way into this year. The inflation rate was 6.5% in December, which was lower than the uptick in food costs.
The cost of total foods had risen 10.4% in December from last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Groceries, or food at home, were up 11.8% and dining out costs were up 8.3%. While those had dipped a little bit, the high prices are still being felt by Americans all over the country.
The prices of groceries are also not up at the same rates across the nation. For example, the Twin Cities, Baltimore, and Dallas are all seeing some of the worst inflationary rates for steep food costs. Dallas rates were at 14.1%, Baltimore was at 13.5%, and the Twin Cities are at 13.7%.
Other cities are also feeling the impact, such as Washington, D.C., where food costs are up 7%, and Chicago, where they are up 7.7%, as well as Miami, which is seeing an 8.8% increase.