Amazon's buying Whole Foods is concerning, and here's why

Earns Amazon
A worker wheels back a cart after loading a bag of groceries into a customer’s car at an AmazonFresh Pickup location in Seattle.

Amazon has purchased the supermarket chain Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion, marking another concerning step toward the public becoming too dependent on this commercial super-monopoly.

Over the years, Amazon has become synonymous with convenience, efficiency, and affordability, delivering almost anything under the sun to your door in a matter of days. With 85.8 percent of American males and 66.5 percent of females working more than 40 hours per week, Amazon capitalizes on that busyness to bring us all the stuff we neither have the time, nor patience, to hunt down.

Last year, the company accounted for 53 percent of all e-commerce growth, as it chewed through both small and large businesses across a number of industries that rely mostly on online sales.

Now, it has turned to food.

Amazon already had a home-delivery grocery service, AmazonFresh, but with its acquisition of Whole Foods, it can integrate that chain into the home-delivery ecosystem of its Amazon Prime membership program and position itself to slowly take over a market that consumes roughly 8 percent of the average American’s income,

To stay competitive with the growing need nationally for home delivery, many local grocery stores have turned to the the tech-startup Instacart.

“We are trying to be more accessible,” said Hilary Mickline, marketing coordinator for the Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philadelphia. “It’s a bit of a struggle, because we have values in our community and the environment that large corporations don’t share. But we need to be able to stay competitive, so it’s a balance.”

Now that Amazon has acquired Whole Foods, it is poised to slowly push out infant companies like Instacart, which ultimately could put community grocers like Mariposa in jeopardy.

Your neighborhood grocery – you know, the one on the corner with homemade baklava and the cashier that always remembers your name – may inevitably close.

However, that isn’t even the most frightening outcome.

Most of us remember what shopping was like before Amazon and its devilishly efficient services, but eventually there will be a generation who never had that experience.

I dread the day when children no longer visit local farmers’ markets and can palm the seasonal produce that vendors pride over.

When you arrive on AmazonFresh’s webpage, a charming female voice asks, “Imagine getting all of the groceries that you need without ever leaving your house.”

I have, and it’s terrifying.

James Meadows is a University of Pennsylvania student interning with Philadelphia Media Network.