Whole Foods met with some of its biggest suppliers in Austin on Tuesday in an attempt to quell the concerns and uncertainty that have been brewing since the upscale grocer was acquired by Amazon last year.
At the gathering, the company outlined its new affinity program in which Amazon Prime members will get exclusive discounts on the most popular Whole Foods items and additional savings on regular weekly sales. During the meeting, Whole Foods stressed to its suppliers that buying into the new program was a way for them to grow.
The deal with Amazon has led food companies that sell to Whole Foods to speculate that the e-commerce giant is behind some of the more recent changes at the grocer, including new fees that some have balked at.
At the time of the Amazon deal, Whole Foods was trying to change its operations to take costs out of its system—a move meant to reduce prices for consumers as the company faced an increasingly competitive retail environment.
“It’s the result of a lot of the work we’ve done over the last couple of years,” A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods president and COO, told Fortune ahead of the meeting.
The area where Amazon has really helped is speed, says Gallo. “Amazon moves very quickly,” he says. “So many of the things we wanted to do over the last few years we didn’t have the ability or resources. They bring the big vision on what’s possible and where things are going.”
Selling product to Whole Foods had become a complicated business, says Gallo, and management had been getting the…