Is Kroger Purchasing Whole Foods? Why Animal Welfare from Animal Killers Is a Marketing Scam
by Zach Groff
Word broke early Friday morning that conventional supermarket giant Kroger may be purchasing Whole Foods Market. The word may just be rumor, but if true it would fit a pattern: when “humanely raised” pig farm conglomerate Niman Ranch got big enough, Perdue purchased it. When “natural” pork producer Farmer John - famous for its mural of happy pigs on pasture (and also the infamous target of our Saving Miley investigation) - came of age, Hormel bought it. Now, with Whole Foods ripe for the plucking, Kroger may purchase it.
This should not come as much of a surprise to those of us who have been following Whole Foods for years. When we started our investigations into Whole Foods, it was rapidly expanding hand in hand with an aggressive marketing campaign - “Values Matter” around its supposed compassion for animals. It didn’t matter that this campaign was based on a lie, as our egg and turkey farm investigations and PETA’s pig farm investigation have shown. What mattered was that in an age when the public is increasingly sympathetic to animal rights but also in the habit of eating animals’ bodies, Whole Foods offered a way to have one’s humane cake and eat it, too -- we could care about animals but eat them.
That was, until Whole Foods’ image started tanking. In addition to our investigations covered in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere, stories started breaking on all sorts of scams and human rights abuses. Asparagus water, prison labor, brutally beating a Black customer: Whole Foods’s news buzz in 2015 was far from enviable.
Part of the reason Whole Foods has been struggling so much is that other retailers - Walmart, Kroger, DxE target Costco (whose violence and deception Wayne Hsiung chronicled on Medium) - have been trying to imitate them, which has cut away at their market share. Still, for a shopper who has the sourcing of “humane” products as the top of their list, only Whole Foods has the right glow. By purchasing Whole Foods, Kroger would make that shopper their own.
What other option do these shoppers of conscience have? Perhaps after all of Whole Foods’ scandals we should start to realize that their model was a house of cards. The notion that we can be nice to farmed animals and then do to them what would be a felony if done to a dog or cat is an Orwellian pipe dream. And that dream doesn’t even exist for the aquatic animals Whole Foods kills, where Whole Foods’ only concern is that the killing be sustainable and where their lives are measured only by weight, not even as the individuals aquatic animals are.
Rather than taking our business to whichever company offers the happiest pictures of animals, it’s time to object to any company that kills animals. We may not be able to boycott them, but we can rise up and protest. With enough agitation, maybe one day we’ll live in a world where rather than actively seeking to do animal killing better, companies like Kroger will want to get out of the animal-killing business altogether.