From The Los Angeles Times today:
Pricing violations included not zeroing out the container weight when weighing prepared items from the food bar, shorting weights on packaged goods, and other problems.
This of course is bad practice toward consumers, but it doesn’t really address the critical issues with Whole Foods.
Yes, Whole Foods has been fined for pricing violations in California. The court injunction will mean five years of oversight and audits. But the real problem is beyond court remedies: everything’s overpriced and the customers seem to like it that way.
Produce prices that can rise to $10/lb for things like cherries when other nearby supermarkets are charging maybe $4-5. Fish prices in the $30/lb range. Whole Foods trades on a reputation for sourcing more variety than the average chain supermarket, and it does achieve that, but not everything it carries is really so exclusive that it justifies a higher price tag.
And in any case, the real money (other than the food bar, which is up to about $8/lb. across the board, whether for roasted eggplant and peppers or for things like canned kidney beans and flaked tuna and cucumber slices) is in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals parading as dietary supplements (and vice versa). Whenever I go into Whole Foods for a small coffee and a roll, the person ahead of me in line is inevitably ringing up more than 100 bucks worth of things like holistic soap bars at $5-10 apiece (compare “Ivory” bath bar 10-pack at about $6 at the local Ralph’s/Kroger’s) and cases of “vitamin waters” at about $4 per bottle, and dietary supplements with a $40-50 fantasy surcharge per bottle. And maybe a scrawny bunch of kale that they’re not sure how to deal with.