Whole Foods Shoppers Turning Back to Brands, Away form PL?

July 28, 2011
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Whole Foods Market Inc. shoppers showed signs of trading up from private label offerings to branded products in the past quarter, company executives said. That could signal a shift in consumer thinking to less of a recession mentality.


“It's a new time with a new set of things happening here that we haven’t seen before,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Austin-based Whole Foods during a conference call with analysts Thursday to discuss third quarter earnings.


That comment came after mention that the average basket size at Whole Foods increased 3 percent in its third quarter compared to a 2 percent increase in its second quarter. Inflation likely accounts for about two-thirds of that increase in the latest quarter but the remaining third is attributable to people buying more expensive items than they have in past quarters, Robb noted.


“We see branded product actually outpacing private label growth…We see the branded products growing nicely. We see people making incremental trade ups,” Robb said.


Whole Foods reported third quarter net income of $88.4 million, a 35 percent increase compared to the $65.7 million in net income reported in the same quarter last year. Sales for the quarter hit $2.4 billion, an 11 percent increase from roughly $2.2 billion in the same period last year. Net income for the first three quarters of the year reached $267 million compared to $188 million in the same period during its previous fiscal year. Net sales for the first three quarters of the year touched $7.7 billion compared to $6.9 billion in the same period last year.

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