Whole Foods cuts jobs to lower prices, improve technology

Lauren Florence

Whole Foods Market, an Austin-based company, plans to cut about 1,500 entry-level jobs to lower prices and invest in technology, according to a press release Sept. 28.

According to the press, over the ensuing eight weeks — until the end of November — the company will reduce its workforce as part of its commitment to lower customer prices and advance upgrades in technology while improving its cost structure.

“We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace,” Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, said in the release.

The 1,500 workers who will be laid off represent about 1.6 percent of the company’s more than 90,000 total workers, according to the press release.

Whole Food’s press release stated the company anticipates most of the reductions will occur naturally through attrition, which is the gradual reduction of a workforce when positions lost from retirement or resignation are not replaced.

Plan II freshman Olivia Hartwell said she can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods on her own, but it’s the only supermarket her family shops at in Connecticut. She said the Whole Foods in her hometown has a program to hire people with disabilities for entry-level positions.

“If those type of people [with disabilities] were going to get laid off, I’d be really frustrated because I think that’s a really cool program, but I’m for new technology, so I guess it all depends on the other work prospects of the people that are getting laid off,” Hartwell said.

The company expects a significant amount of affected workers will find another job through one of the nearly 2,000 open positions in the company or through new jobs that will be created from the 100 Whole Foods stores in development, the press release read.

Robb said in the press release that workers who lose their jobs will be paid in full over the next eight weeks while they decide what to do next.

“This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treating affected team members in a caring and respectful manner,” Robb said in the press release. “We have offered them several options including transition pay, a generous severance, or the opportunity to apply for other jobs.”

Nutrition sophomore Sydney Benator said she shops at Whole Foods every two or three weeks and sometimes goes there to get dinner. Benator said she was upset to hear about the job cuts, but said if Whole Foods can lower their prices as a result, then it will be a better decision for the long-term.

“I feel like that’s totally against what Whole Foods stands for because their mission is very community-based,” Benator said.

“But I understand that as a business sometimes you have to make decisions that are best for you and they’re also trying to make things cheaper for the population in general. And if more people can get access to healthy food because things are cheaper then that’s probably better in the long run.”