Whole Foods is set to launch a new type of supermarket called 365 by Whole Foods Market in California next month. This new concept store will reportedly be more budget-friendly and sustainable in an effort to attract food-conscious millennials to their aisles.
The stores will feature LED lights and other efficient fixtures that will save water, and recycle some of the heat that would be otherwise wasted netting a 25% savings in energy. They also plan to compost scraps and donate leftovers to food banks. For customers, 365 will offer fewer products to allow for a quicker get- in, get-out process for those in a hurry, but also offer in-store cafes for those who like to linger.
This should not be interpreted as Whole Foods evolving into your neighborhood discount supermarket. And frankly, the chain has a lot of work to do to restore its tarnished image. From selling extremely wasteful items like pre-peeled oranges wrapped in plastic to the much-ridiculed “asparagus water” — a grossly overpriced bottle of water with 3 asparagus stalks floating in it — the brand has taken a lot of heat for hypocrisy and major price-gouging.
With 365, Whole Foods hopes to cater to the millennial set by selling foods at lower prices However, this is not an easy feat in an industry where profit margins peak around 2% – specialty markets like Whole Foods are able to achieve a higher margin of about double that.
365’s goal of zero-waste is a worthy one — in the U.S. alone, over 60 million metric tons of food are wasted a year. But this goal seems pretty far away for the store. Jeff Turnas, president of the new chain stated, “I think we’ll be able to get more and more sustainable in our build as we get more of these open.” The chain has plans to roll out more stores this spring and summer in Portland, Oregon and Bellingham Washington with more to come in 2017.
Whole Foods isn’t the only supermarket chain to experiment with a more sustainable model. Kroger has announced similar plans to move towards the smaller, energy-efficient store concept with a greater focus on reducing food waste through the launch of their new stores called Main & Vine.