What companies does Whole Foods own?

Whole Foods Market
Sections & Media
Article
Fast Facts
  • Facts & Related Content
Media
  • Images
Additional Info
  • More Articles On This Topic
  • Contributors
  • Article History
Home Politics, Law & Government Banking & Business

Whole Foods Market

American supermarket chain
Print Cite
verifiedCite
While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.
Select Citation Style
Copy Citation
Share
Share
Share to social media
Facebook Twitter
URL
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Whole-Foods-Market
More
Give Feedback External Websites
Feedback
Corrections? Updates? Omissions? Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login).
Feedback Type
Your Feedback Submit Feedback
Thank you for your feedback

Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!
External Websites
  • Official Site of Whole Foods Market
By Robert Lewis | View Edit History

Whole Foods Market
See all media
Date:September 1980 - present...(Show more)Headquarters:Austin...(Show more)Areas Of Involvement:organic food retailing supermarket...(Show more)
See all related content

Whole Foods Market, the largest American chain of supermarkets that specializes in natural and organic foods. It operates stores in the United States and also in Canada and the United Kingdom. Corporate headquarters are in Austin, Texas. In 2017 Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon.com.

The first Whole Foods store opened its doors in Austin in September 1980, after John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy, owners of the SaferWay health food store, joined forces with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, owners of Clarksville Natural Grocery. Somewhat larger than a typical health food store, it offered a wider selection of food. A flash flood tore through the uninsured building only a few months after the opening, butwith help from an already loyal core group of customersthe damage was quickly repaired.

Mackey assumed leadership of Whole Foods as the company expanded. In the mid-1980s new stores were opened in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. The first expansion out of Texas came with the purchase of the Whole Food Company of New Orleans in 1988. Within the next decade Whole Foods became a national company, largely by purchasing existing local or regional natural food chains, including Wellspring Grocery (North Carolina, 1991), Bread & Circus (Massachusetts and Rhode Island, 1992), Mrs. Goochs (southern California, 1993), Fresh Fields (northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and Illinois, 1996), Bread of Life (Florida, 1997), Merchant of Vino (Michigan, 1997), and Harrys Farmers Market (Georgia, 2001). The company first offered shares of its stock to the public in 1992.

Whole Foods moved into Canada in 2002 and into the United Kingdom with the purchase of Fresh & Wild in 2004. The companys largest single purchase was Wild Oats Markets, which operated 109 stores in the United States and Canada at a time when Whole Foods had more than 190. The merger took effect in 2007, after a court overruled the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which had predicted an adverse effect on competition in the market for natural and organic groceries. Whole Foods later sold 13 stores to satisfy the objections of the FTC. In 2016 the company opened its first stores under the new name 365 by Whole Foods. The 365 storesnamed for a Whole Foods store brandwere smaller and carried less expensive merchandise than the companys regular outlets.

Organic food, as sold by Whole Foods and other retailers, must meet standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but no official definition exists for natural food. Given this absence, Whole Foods compiled its own list of forbidden substances, including high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and many kinds of artificial colourings, flavourings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The company also published standards for the humane care and slaughter of animals used for meat and other products. Whole Foods took a step to reduce litter when it stopped providing disposable plastic grocery bags in 2008.

In May 2017 Whole Foods overhauled its board as the company faced continued declining sales. Shortly thereafter it was announced that Amazon.com was buying Whole Foods. The deal, which was valued at more than $13 billion, closed in August.

Robert Lewis