Ready or not, the changes happening at Whole Foods are well underway.
Under the ownership of Amazon, the grocery chain known for sky-high prices has already started to bring certain items down to earth, making them more accessible to the masses. But in a move that may surprise some longtime Whole Foods shoppers, big-name brands are hoping to get in on the action now that Amazon is in charge.
Understandably, Whole Foods hasn't been stocking its shelves with Doritos and its not-so-healthy siblings. But Frito-Lay's Simply options, which include 11 of its big-name snacks like Cheetos, Funyuns, Ruffles, and Doritos, do fit into the chain's better-for-you M.O.
"The notion of clean and simple is very important to a segment of consumers," Jennifer Saenz, Frito-Lay's chief marketing officer, told Bloomberg. "They're searching for that."
Analysts see Amazon's existing relationship with Frito-Lay as an indicator that the chips and snacks could find their way to Whole Foods locations. Frito-Lay sees its ability to produce a huge amount of products as the main draw for Whole Foods, so the Simply range could be stocked from coast to coast.
"Amazon's acquisition makes it much more likely that Whole Foods will carry these better-for-you brands," analyst Ali Dibadj explained. "The smaller brands just can't keep up with the spending and velocity required from Amazon anymore. We expect Whole Foods to carry more — and more big brands, too."
Knowing that many people associate Frito-Lay brands with junk food, the company is keeping the Simply name front-and-center. By adding modifiers like "organic" and "all-natural" to Doritos and Cheetos, the mega-brand is hoping to appeal to health-conscious shoppers and charge a bit more for the better ingredients.
"The challenge is, will Cheetos ever connote 'good for you'? That's a difficult premise to work on," Dibadj said. "But perhaps Cheetos Simply can connote 'better for you,' and that might be enough for some consumers."
Amazon and Whole Foods didn't comment on the idea, but with so many changes coming, seeing Doritos and Cheetos next to the usual flaxseed crisps and pita chips may not be too far off.
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