Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Whole Foods Market takes first pre-emptive strike at Trader Joe’s
With Trader Joe's opening next month in Fort Worth, copycat products have already begun.
And at least one "shake-up" is already in the works.
For the first sign of the "TJ's influence" in Dallas, head to Whole Foods Markets and look for "Three Bean Coffee." It can be found either in a stand-alone display in front of the deli area or on an end-cap at the back of the store. It comes in a cylindrical cardboard can about a foot high, with colorful graphics and a re-sealable lid.
Any Trader Joe's veteran would recognize the distinctive container: It looks exactly like the coffee sold at Trader Joe's.
Each can contains about 12 ounces of coffee, but it's the price that screams "We're just like Trader Joe's!" -- $4.99 a can.
It's a whole lot cheaper than Whole Foods' regular coffee, sold in bags or in the bulk bins, and priced from $11.99 to $14.99 per pound. The difference in price between WF's regular coffee and this new coffee line is notable since the supplier is one and the same: Allegro, the Colorado-based coffee company that Whole Foods acquired in 1997.
Introduced in February, the new Three Bean line comes in two price points: a basic trio of light, medium, and dark roast beans for $4.99; and a quartet of higher-end beans including French roast, house blend, Brazil, and Nicaragua, for $7.49.
According to a WF staffer who did not realize the conversation was anything other than a random conversation with a customer, the new coffee line is designed to compete directly with Trader Joe's.
"It's supposed to be comparable to what Trader Joe's offers -- more bang for your buck," the staffer said.
A spokeswoman for Whole Foods said she was unfamiliar with Trader Joe's coffee and couldn't comment on the similarity.
But the coffee is not the only example of the early competition brewing. Whole Foods stores have been sprouting larger, more prominent stacks of wine randomly placed around the store in a TJ's fashion, at deeply discounted prices marked with vividly colored signage, as part of Whole Foods' "Sure Deal" program, first introduced in 2008.
Food shopping in Dallas is about to get a lot more fun.