Amazon’s Whole Foods buyout: What farmers are saying

By on June 29, 2017

Since Amazon announced plans to buy Whole Foods last week, headlines have been rampant with speculation over how the two companies plan to work together.

“If we’re talking about getting organic into more consumer’s hands, we know that there is a desire behind younger shoppers to buy organic foods,” says Darren Seifer, a food industry analyst for market research company NPD group, which reported that 24 percent of millennial’s bought something from Whole Foods last year.

Now, Amazon, with its near ubiquitous audience and seemingly instantaneous delivery, seems “primed” (groan) to expand Whole Foods’s reach even further.

But what does that mean for Whole Foods’s tens of thousands of organic farmers? The grocery chain works with producers as big as Driscoll’s and CalOrganic and as small as RimRock Ranches out of Genesee, Idaho.

“That’s the beauty of Whole Foods,” says third-generation farmer Jim Hermann of RimRock, which provides rare Beluga lentils, garbanzo beans and peas to Whole Foods stores in the Northwest. “The two lentils we grew for Whole Foods were the highest grossing crops we had last year.”

For farmers like Hermann, expanding the United States’ palette for higher-value crops through Amazon’s audience would mean more financial stability for his business and healthier, more diversified soil on his farm. But not all his colleagues are as optimistic.

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