Amazon is Buying Whole Foods Market: Great for Grocery Innovation

North American home cooks can expect even more convenient options and innovations to arrive over the next few years with Amazon’s announcement that they are acquiring Whole Foods. Moreover, the secondary competitive effects have a shot at finally ushering this once slow-moving but vital retail sector into a much more convenient and frictionless digital age.

The aggressive move, by far Amazon’s biggest acquisition to date, greatly expands Amazon’s currently minuscule brick-and-mortar retail footprint, and allows Amazon to much more rapidly scale services like grocery pick-up, home delivery and online ordering features.

Here in Seattle, we have a front-row seat to the innovations and experiments that Amazon has performed regarding grocery: delivery with Amazon Fresh, Dash Buttons, Amazon Go (“cashierless” stores), Amazon Fresh Pickup and more.

Whole Foods has 465 stores in North America and the United Kingdom, and according to Amazon it will continue to operate as a separate entity. Amazon has been a leader with grocery innovation, but so far it’s experiments have been small-scale. They’ve amassed considerable data on what works (and doesn’t) about grocery delivery, handheld voice tools, ambient voice devices like the Echo, cashierless shopping and consolidated grocery pickup.

We here at BigOven are always happy to see innovation in this once-sleepy but absolutely vital grocery industry, and today’s news is causing a lot of heads to turn among our partners in the industry.

Wall Street’s Early Read

Wall Street loves the deal — both Amazon and Whole Foods are up significantly:

And it knocked nearly $40 billion of market cap off of major grocery retailers and consumer packaged goods companies:

Our Take

We love to see innovation in the space and applaud Amazon for taking an aggressive, long-term step here to deliver more innovation to grocery. The US market for food and beverage is $795 billion, it’s the single highest-occasion shopping we do as consumers. Food and beverages accounts for 30% of all U.S. personal spending excluding cars and energy, according to Morgan Stanley.

On a data level, this gives Amazon a much clearer picture of consumers, and not just in the grocery category.

We are, after all, what we eat. Consumers express enormous implicit information when they buy at a grocery store. If you know consumer A is buying Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, chips and a case of Coors Light on a Friday afternoon in a transaction size of $38, and another is purchasing watercress, arugula and salmon in a $230 transaction on a Tuesday, you already know a lot about these two consumers. And that fuller picture will be used to better inform all recommendations.

We love to see innovation in grocery to make life easier for the home cook, it’s precisely what we’re about. For quite some time now, we’ve been wanting a world where home cooks could plan what they want to make, intelligently use up more of what they buy at the store, and instantly get items delivered to them (or pick them up) to make the perfect meal. This commitment by Amazon is terrific to see, as it alone should bring some great innovation. Its secondary effects might generate even more impact however — it is already causing some much-needed discussion in retailer and packaged good company boardrooms.

It’s high time things get even easier for home cooks. We are increasingly pressed for time, yet we still want to put a great meal on the table for our families. This massive transaction will no doubt push great chains like Kroger and Safeway further in completing their solutions for home cooks.

Amazon acquires:

  • Loads of data on high-end consumer buying preferences
  • Retail footprint
  • Distribution infrastructure for grocery delivery – employees, warehousing, food and produce sourcing, refrigeration, merchandising
  • Live retail labs for buying/merchandising
  • Logical delivery points for Echo, web and shopping list canvases

At BigOven, we’re all about using digital technology to improve the lifecycle of the home cook. This cycle, which hits daily has a large amount of cognitive load and physical hassle. Many of us love to cook, but find the process of figuring out what to make, planning, shopping challenging. We think the Amazon-Whole Foods transaction helps close that loop for Amazon, though it might not be fully aligned for all demographics (Whole Foods serves customers at the high end of the market).

After dabbling in various experiments in the grocery space, Amazon’s commitment signals a new digital era in grocery. In our view, given the size of grocery and its high occasion, it makes sense for Amazon to make grocery a strategic priority, as it fits with Amazon’s goal of being earth’s most customer-centric company. Amazon will continue to get great data on what consumers are buying to be able to deliver even more customized options.

The race is now on to own America’s shopping list, and if Amazon really wants to own it, they probably need a way to stock and deliver grocery items at scale. Players need a combination of assets such as:

  • Customer scale
  • Distribution infrastructure
  • Pick-up infrastructure
  • Digital platforms to look up recipes, manage a recipe collection, create plans and a grocery list
  • Planning tools with curated menu ideas
  • Household list management from any screen or canvas
  • Personalization and preference technologies

Amazon is known for market disruption, and we both welcome big bets like this in this category, and we expect to see counter-moves by big retailers like Albertsons Safeway, Kroger,  Trader Joe’s, Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop etc.) and others.

Across many categories of Amazon’s business, Walmart has been a chief rival, and this certainly ups the ante in the Amazon vs. Walmart competition. Amazon has certainly shown other retailers that unless they innovate, they’re in danger of being obsolete, as more and more purchase decisions will take place via ambient voice interaction, mobile and web, use machine learning for personalization and targeted deals, and much more.

But it won’t happen overnight, and Amazon initially gains primarily high-end grocery shopper coverage with this move. In addition to the logistical challenges of integrating a workforce with 67,000 employees, another major in our minds is whether the Whole Foods customer is (by and large) the same as the core Amazon customer, and also whether the core values of each institution match closely.

It also remains an open question whether the relatively high-end nature of the the Whole Foods customer fully aligns with Amazon’s core customer base. Another way to put this: you can’t buy Diet Coke or Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese at Whole Foods, and it’s for a deliberate reason — it’s in the name of the company itself. To achieve what we believe to be Amazon’s grander ambitions in the space to serve more than just the organics high-end purchaser, we predict that Whole Foods infrastructure will ultimately be used to expand downmarket — out horizontally from their current core base, likely via rebranding (e.g., Whole Foods becomes Amazon Fresh Organic, with Amazon Fresh offering the widest variety.) Not all home cooks are Whole Foods customers, though most of us here at BigOven are.

This presents a particularly interesting situation for Instacart. Whole Foods is an investor in Instacart, and one of Instacart’s top sources for delivery is Whole Foods. Instacart can continue to be a “Switzerland” for home delivery, neutral between parties, but more and more they will be in competition with an integrated Amazon-Whole Foods.

On the grocery delivery and/or pickup front, it’s still too fragmented. Most consumers shop at more than one grocery store in a given month. We think there’s an opportunity to establish a digital standard for grocery list communication between apps like ours (i.e., apps which home cooks use to make grocery lists) and grocers that have the end-products to purchase, in much the same way the retail photo finishing industry accepts orders from multiple photo apps.  It has to provide a financial incentive for apps to connect, but it’s completely feasible today; it just needs the will to make it happen. This would make grocery purchase and delivery considerably easier and increase velocity of home delivery and out-of-store selection for pickup.

For our part, BigOven currently has 3.8 million members, many of whom make grocery lists and would love home delivery; it’s a frequent feature request. If you’re in the grocery retail industry or delivery business and you’d like to discuss that with us, reach out.

About BigOven

BigOven is a leading app for the home cook. From great recipe ideas to organization, from planning what to make to grocery shopping, preparation and social sharing, BigOven makes cooking simpler. BigOven has 3.8 million members, 13+ million downloads, 1.6 million recipes and 4,000+ food bloggers with the Save Recipe plugin. Every day we welcome thousands of new members, and we hope you’re one of them. Join us today.

Dad’s Day Dishes

Cajun Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp with Caramelized Corn Polenta
Cajun Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp with Caramelized Corn Polenta

 

Aka meat, cheese and booze!

(Stretchy pants welcome recommended.)

 

Meat:

Bring on the protein!

Beer-Battered Fish

It’s hard to beat perfectly crispy fried fish. Beer just makes the whole situation 1,000 times better (no surprise there). Serve your fish with a tall glass of chilled beer of course.

Easy Traditional Greek Gyros

Not sure how to pronounce “gyro?” Doesn’t matter as long as you and Dad know how to chow down on a few.

Sugar Steak with Bourbon

Bourbon adds even more flavorful to juicy steak. Don’t overcook your meat! The steak will continue cooking after you remove it from the heat. And let that thing rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing in. Patience really is a virtue.

 

Cheese:

Get all cheesy. Dad won’t mind.

Carne Asada Chipotle Pull Apart Bread

Bread. And cheese. And meat. Plus you get to skip the utensils. Dreams do come true.

Calzones

Ooey gooey molten cheese stuffed inside golden brown dough. Yes please! Feel free to add your favorite pizza toppings in there too, like veggies. Or not.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Now’s the time to bring out that hot sauce of yours.

 

Booze & Donuts:

Beer is good, but boozy cocktails are better. Donuts are icing on the cake… er donut.

Bacon Bloody Mary

Garnish with one (or five) strips of crispy bacon!

Kahlua Root Beer Float

End Dad’s Day with a creamy, spiked float. Feel free to add an extra splash of Kahlua. This is a celebration after all.

Peanut Butter Banana Donuts with Chocolate

Did someone say donuts?? Enjoy these bad boys for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. And second dinner.

 

Looking for more of the good stuff? See our collection of Father’s Day recipes.

The BigOven Grocery List is Now Available on Your Wrist

The BigOven Watch app helps home cooks with their grocery shopping experience

BigOven is launching its first-ever Apple Watch app today. The free app is available with the BigOven iPhone app in the App Store. Now grocery shopping for home cooks is as easy as a few quick taps on your wrist.

Enabling BigOven for Watch

Download BigOven’s 11.0.6 app version, then go to the Watch app on your iPhone. Launch Watch. In ‘My Watch’ tab, scroll until you find BigOven and tap on it. Slide to on position to show app on Apple Watch. Go back to My Watch main screen and tap ‘Dock’ to position BigOven as one of the apps you see in your Watch dock.

Adding Items to Your Grocery List

Add items as usual to your grocery list using your iPhone app or the website. The BigOven Apple Watch app will sync with your iPhone grocery list.

At the Store

Now when you go shopping, you can free up your hands for maneuvering your cart through the aisles, keeping your phone in your pocket or purse if you wish. Use your Apple Watch to tap items off your grocery list. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
    

Summer Summer Summertime Salads

Summer Abundance Salad
Summer Abundance Salad

 

Big, bright and beautiful salads.

For your summertime consumption.

 

Hearty:

Fill up on salad! Yes it’s possible and can be very much enjoyable too.

Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken Taco Salad

Probably one of the least boring salads you’ll ever meet. Not feeling the chicken? Grill up some salmon instead.

Cauliflower “Potato” Salad

Maybe you’re tired of regular potato salad or maybe you just want to switch things up. Swap in cauliflower then dig in! (After being patient and letting it chill out in the fridge for a couple hours.)

Dilled Shrimp Pasta Salad

This popular pasta salad can be served as a main dish or as a side if you’re really going all out. Enjoy the leftovers (if any) for lunch the next day.

 

Refreshing:

The heat can take a toll on your appetite. Keep your energy levels up and your taste buds entertained by enjoying one (or all) of these salads.

Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Mint, Cucumber & Feta

This tangy, fresh salad sure won’t last long! We recommend making a double batch.

Summer Squash & Red Quinoa Salad

Who needs lettuce? This light salad will satisfy your hunger without weighing you down, thanks to protein-packed quinoa and toasted walnuts.

Balsamic Green Bean Salad

Try not to cook your green beans too long! Unless you enjoy mushy beans. The flavors in the salad develop as it sits so give your salad some alone time in the fridge before plating up.

Fruity:

Not your typical fruit salads. Gotta keep life interesting!

Fruit Salad in Orange Cups

Serve fruit salad in cups made out of oranges! Why dirty more dishes anyway?

Super Food Detox Salad

This healthy salad is packed with veggies, fruit, and protein. Plus it’s actually really tasty. Win win.

Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

Fruit and veggies made friends again. Top this salad with a little bit of feta for an extra treat.

 

Still in full-on salad mode? We have more recipes over here.

Dust off That Grill

Greek Lamb Souvlaki Plates with Avocado Tzatziki
Greek Lamb Souvlaki Plates with Avocado Tzatziki

 

And let’s get grilling!

Yes, even dessert.

 

Grilled Main Dishes:

Bring your appetite along for the ride because you’re going to have quite the time choosing just one of these entrees.

Grilled Satay Shrimp Skewers

It’s really all about that sauce. Not a fan of shrimp? Use chicken instead.

Cedar Plank Grilled Sesame Salmon with Kimchi Miso Butter & Grilled Tomatoes

Grilling to impress? This right here is your recipe. (And there’s nothing wrong with impressing yourself… )

Chicken Caprese

This one’s a crowd pleaser, for obvious reasons. Grill up some baguette slices and you’re good to go.

 

Grilled Sides:

Why stop at the main event? You need some grilled side action in your life.

Grilled Asparagus with Gorgonzola Butter

Perfectly charred asparagus is pretty amazing on its own, but when you add funky gorgonzola butter to the picture this whole veggie situation gets even more exciting.

Olive Oil Parmesan Grilled Corn

Of course cheesy corn is a great idea.

Romaine Salad with Spicy Ranch, Tomatoes & Fried Onions

Grilling lettuce?! Yep, we’re a little crazy, but this technique is actually quite delicious, not to mention a fantastic way to use up slightly wilty greens that have been hanging out in your fridge for a little too long.

 

Grilled Desserts:

You’re on a roll. Might as well throw some dessert on the grill to end your feast on a sweet note.

Strawberry Shortcake Grilled Doughnuts

Yes, you read that correctly. Grilled Doughnuts. Bring on the drool.

Grilled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar Rum Butter

Slightly healthy, slightly decadent, and very flavorful. (Thank you rum butter.)

Grilled Pineapple

Clearly fruit gets along with the grill quite well. You could go the yogurt route, but we recommend topping of those juicy slices with vanilla ice cream.

 

Grill still hot? Get more flavorful grilling recipes.

Sample Flavors from Around the World

Shakshuka
Shakshuka

 

Without leaving your kitchen.

 

Fill Your Plate:

Give grilled cheeses a break and choose something a little more exciting. (Not that melty cheese on toasty bread isn’t exciting.)

Salmon Sushi

Yes, you can make your own sushi! Just be sure to get your hands on super duper fresh fish. And don’t expect your first (or second) round of rolls to come out looking perfect. It’s all about the taste, right?

Italian Meatballs

You’re going to want to whip up a big batch of spaghetti to keep your meatballs company. Don’t forget the freshly grated Parm!

Tostadas

Top a crispy tortilla with your fave toppings. Beans, cheese, and tomato is always a good combo… throw on sliced jalapeno for some heat and shredded chicken to up the protein factor.

 

Eat with Your Hands:

That’s right, no utensils required.

Garlic Naan

It’s way too easy to fill up on this buttery, garlicky, carby magnificence. So there’s no point in even trying to hold back.

Gyro Meat Sandwich Filling with Tzatziki

Make a double batch of tzatziki and straight up drink the stuff. You have our permission.

Pork Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich

This flavorful sandwich is definitely worth the extra effort. So set those jars of peanut butter and jelly aside then get to work.

 

Grab a Bowl:

Big bowl + big spoon is the way to go.

Beef Massaman Curry

Serve this comfy curry over a bed of fluffy rice. Perfection.

Cashew Chicken

Nutty, crunchy cashews are arguably the best part! Besides that sauce of course.

African Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew

This meatless dish is both sweet and salty. (And definitely hard to resist.)

 

Want to expand your palate even more? See our World Cuisine recipe collection.

Mother’s Day Done Right

Grilled Balsamic Chicken & Avocado Bruschetta Salad
Grilled Balsamic Chicken & Avocado Bruschetta Salad

 

Make Mom something special.

Just don’t forget to clean the dishes!

 

Brunch:

Serve alongside bottomless mimosas.

Crepes

Fill your tender crepes with fresh berries, banana slices, decadent Nutella, or pretty much anything Mom wants. Including ice cream. (Maybe skip the wine though.)

Coffee Caramelized Croissant French Toast Sticks

Because regular french toast sticks are just too… regular.

Caprese Frittata

Wander into savory territory and whip up this mouth-watering frittata. Don’t forget the cheese!

 

Dinner:

Let Mom kick back and relax for the entire day. Now’s the time to bring out the wine.

Heirloom Tomato Pomodoro Penne Pasta

This light pasta salad is definitely not lacking in the flavor department. Serve warm, room temp or chilled.

Chicken Watermelon Salad

Juicy chicken watermelon salad is a real winner. The zesty honey lime dressing ties all of the delicious flavors together nicely. So don’t even think about using bottled dressing.

Grilled Citrus Salmon

You’ll want to go back for seconds, but save room for something sweet. (Make sure Mom saves room too! Unless you want all the dessert to yourself.)

 

Treats:

Bring on the sugar! These desserts are almost as sweet as Mom.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Bellini Smoothie with Blueberries

Serve this tasty, fruity beverage any time of day. Leave out the booze for a kid-friendly version.

Yummy Vanilla Cupcakes

Top these simple cupcakes with Mom’s favorite frosting. Buttercream is always a popular choice. You can decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, berries, or edible flowers!

No-Bake Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Macaroons

Like chocolate dipped strawberries but arguably better. Just taste for yourself.

 

Spoil Mom with more tasty recipes.

Cinco de Mayo Fun

Slow Cooker Carnitas
Slow Cooker Carnitas

 

Grab your piñata!

Plus your appetite.

It’s time for tequila with a side of tacos

And more tacos.

 

Stuffed:

Tortillas are magical vessels for all sorts of fillings. Let’s get to it!

Shrimp Tacos

Don’t skimp on the juicy shrimp. This recipe calls for chorizo too, so you’re in for a real treat.

Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas

Not your typical enchiladas. This twist is full of flavor and veggies! Serve with guac, of course.

Skinny Chimichangas

Slightly terrified of big bubbling vats of oil? Don’t fret, you can bake chimichangas in the oven.

 

Light:

Not planning on supporting a food baby any time soon? Whip up something on the lighter side. Save room for a couple margaritas at the very least.

Tortilla Lime Soup

A good excuse to be lazy and just throw some store-bought tortilla chips on top. (You can always go all out and bake up your own batch of real deal tortilla chips… the more chips the merrier.)

Burrito Bowls

Burrito bowls are easy to customize, so feel free to include all of your favorite goodies. Extra guac? Yes please!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

This simple, zesty shrimp will be ready to devour in under 10 minutes. What are you waiting for?

 

Treats:

Your savory stomach may be full, but your dessert (and alcohol) stomach still needs tending to.

Minty Watermelon Cucumber Margarita

Regular margaritas are always a good idea, and fruity margaritas are always a great idea.

Frozen Mezcal Palomas

Are you a fan of smokey cocktails? This drink is for you!

Tres Leches Cake

Top this ultra moist cake with fresh whipped cream and juicy berries. You’re welcome.

 

Keep the fiesta going with more Cinco de Mayo recipes.

Quick & Easy Sides

Lemony Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Olives & Bacon
Lemony Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Olives & Bacon

 

To keep your main dish company.

Your plate full.

And your tummy satisfied.

 

Refreshing:

Go the light route, but don’t skimp on flavor.

Caprese Salad

This simple classic is always a safe bet. Serve with fresh bread or enjoy straight off the platter.

Greek Farmers Salad

Add a little feta to make this dish even better!

Avocado Citrus Salad

For times when Caesar sounds a little boring.

 

Hearty:

Who has time for a sad plate of limp greens?

Black Bean, Mango & Corn Salad

Enjoy this salad as is or scoop it onto fish tacos. You could even get some chips involved if you really wanted to.

Chickpea Salad with Carrots & Dill

Perfect for lunches or when you need a few bites of something healthy to tide you over between meals.

Soba Noodle & Raw Veggie Salad

Serve this flavorful noodle dish with chicken breast or tofu for a complete meal. The leftovers are just as amazing!

 

Veggies:

Eat your veggies! These guys are definitely not lacking in the flavor department.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Crispy cheese makes all vegetables exciting. Especially tender asparagus.

Green Bean Salad with Almonds

Toasted almonds add a nice crunch and nutty flavor to this veggie salad. Peanuts would be delicious too!

Crispy Roasted Broccoli

Forget steaming. We want all of the crispy bits. This dish happens to be dairy-free so everyone can dig in.

 

Looking for more easy peasy sides? We got you covered.

 

Hopping Easter Recipes

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Citrus Topping
No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Citrus Topping

 

Dye your eggs.

And eat them too.

 

Brunch:

Mimosas are mandatory.

Sweet Potato Hash Egg Cups

These individual egg cups are Easter morning snackage material. Refrigerate the leftovers (if any) and enjoy them for breakfast on busy mornings as you run out the door.

Cheesy Scrambled Eggs in Avocado with Crispy Bacon

Creamy avocado filled with cheesy eggs and perfectly crispy bacon?! Please excuse the drool.

Leek & Bacon Quiche

Gourmet brunching at its finest. It’s all about that buttery, flaky crust.

 

Savory:

Take a quick break from the eggs and Easter candy.

Glazed Ham with Pineapple Mustard

Such a classic. You can’t go wrong with sweet and tangy ham on Easter.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

This smooth spring soup goes down a little too easily.

Spring Pea & Carrot Salad with Carrot Top Pesto

Don’t let those carrot tops go to waste. Blend up a fresh carrot top pesto!

 

Sweet:

Save some of those chocolate eggs for later (or not) and grab some actual dessert.

Krispy Easter Eggs

These are the eggs you really want to hide because they’ll surely disappear in no time.

Single Serve Carrot Cake

If you don’t want to be “stuck” with an entire carrot cake, you can bake a cute little number just for yourself. (If you do want a real deal full-sized carrot cake, here you go!)

Meyer Lemon Chamomile Suzette Crepes with Greek Yogurt

Whip up these fancy schmancy citrusy crepes for a light dessert or even brunch!

 

Looking for more Easter Recipes? Hop on over to our Easter collection.