I don’t think it’s possible to know exactly what will happen now that Amazon has bought Whole Foods, but I think there is a lot of opportunity. If Amazon continues to let independent companies sell through them, and Whole Foods continues selling local products, food startups might find it easier to sell their wares.
Traditional grocery stores that work on slim margins and sell shelf space for tens of thousands of dollars favor large food conglomerates. Amazon has an opportunity to level the playing field – if they do this right. They could help support family farming and make it much easier for consumers to find healthy, local, fresh, safe food.
What’s more important to me, though, is what Jeff Bezos does with all the money he’s making. He’s apparently going to pass Bill Gates shortly and will be the richest man on the planet – yet he does not have a philanthropic arm and has not signed The Giving Pledge, or done much with his vast fortune to help others. That is what I am watching most closely.
An Amazon/Whole Foods type of merger was inevitable, but how someone amasses their wealth and what s/he does with it is another story. I think Bezos has a chance to also cause upheaval in the nonprofit world – and I hope he does.