This is How Much it Actually Costs to Shop at Whole Foods

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Whole Foods or Whole Paycheck?

Whole Foods Market Inc. is under scrutiny after a New York City investigation found that the upscale food market routinely overcharges customers. Whole Foods was recently fined $800,000 for similar practices in California.

A while back, the chain announced plans to start a sister chain of stores aimed at younger shoppers, as it seeks to ditch the “Whole Paycheck” sobriquet. Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey said the new chain will have lower prices, cost less to run and be “hip, cool, and tech-oriented.”

MarketWatch did its own sting operation to see just how high prices are. Here’s what prices look like on a random sampling of grocery items at Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Target .

The prices were taken at San Francisco Bay Area grocery stores, where grocery items are about 12% higher than the national average according to 2010 Census data. Safeway prices were calculated based on Club Price, which is free to shoppers who sign up. All prices were based on sale price, if applicable.

Bananas

Whole Foods: 99 cents per pound

Safeway: 79 cents per pound

Trader Joe’s: 19 cents each (approximately 73 cents per pound based on average weight of a banana)

Target: 24 cents each (approximately 92.4 cents per pound based on average weight of a banana)

Winner: Trader Joe’s

You could buy 1.36 Trader Joe’s bananas for the cost of one Whole Foods banana.

Chips

Whole Foods: $2.69 per 8.5 ounce bag (approximately 31 cents per ounce)

Safeway: $3 per 8.5 ounce bag (35 cents per ounce)

Trader Joe’s: $1.99 per 10 ounce bag (19.9 cents per ounce)

Target: $2.99 per 8 ounce bag (37 cents per ounce)

Winner: Trader Joe’s

You could buy 1.63 ounces of Trader Joe’s chips for the cost of one ounce of Kettle Brand Potato Chips at Whole Foods.

Peanut Butter

Whole Foods: $2.79 per 16 ounce jar (17.4 cents per ounce)

Safeway: $1.79 per 16 ounce jar (11.2 cents per ounce)

Trader Joe’s: $2.49 per 16 ounce jar (15.56 cents per ounce)

Target: $2.39 per 18 ounce jar (13.28 cents per ounce)

Winner: Safeway

You could buy 1.55 ounces of Safeway peanut butter for the cost of one ounce of Whole Foods peanut butter.

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Whole Foods: $6.99 per 12 ounce bag (58.25 cents per ounce)

Safeway: $2.50 per 8 ounce bag (31.3 cents per ounce)

Trader Joe’s: $4.29 per 12 ounce bag (35.75 cents per ounce)

Target: $6.29 per 16 ounce bag (39.31 cents per ounce)

Winner: Safeway

You could buy 1.86 ounces of Safeway cheese for the cost of one ounce of Whole Foods cheese.

Skim milk

Whole Foods: $2.29 per half gallon

Safeway: $2.49 per half gallon

Trader Joe’s: $1.99 per half gallon

Target: $1.69 per half gallon

Winner: Target

You could buy 1.35 half gallon cartons of milk at Target for the cost of one carton of milk at Whole Foods.

Canned artichoke hearts

Whole Foods: $2.99 per 14 ounce jar (21.36 cents per ounce)

Safeway: $2.99 per 13.75 ounce jar (21.74 cents per ounce)

Trader Joe’s: $2.29 per 14 ounce jar (16.35 cents per ounce)

Target: $3.29 per 14 ounce jar (23.5 cents per ounce)

Winner: Trader Joe’s

You could buy 1.3 cans of Trader Joe’s artichoke hearts for the price of one can at Whole Foods.

Kashi GoLean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble flavored cereal (14 ounce box)

Whole Foods: $3.29 (normally $4.39)

Safeway: $3.50

Trader Joe’s: $3.69

Target: $4.29

Winner: Whole Foods (if on sale)

Mac and Cheese

Whole Foods: $1.50 (if two boxes are purchased)

Safeway: $1.25

Trader Joe’s: $0.99

Target: $1.25 (if three boxes are purchased)

Winner: Trader Joe’s

You could buy 1.52 boxes of Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese for the cost of one box of Annie’s at Whole Foods.

Organic Carrots (1 pound bag)

Whole Foods: $1.99

Safeway: $1.99

Trader Joe’s: $1.49

Target: $2.14

Winner: Trader Joe’s

You could buy 1.34 bags of Organic Carrots from Trader Joe’s rather than from Whole Foods.

Hummus

Whole Foods: $2.39 per 8 ounce jar (29.88 cents per ounce)

Safeway: $2.99 per 10 ounce jar (29.9 cents per ounce)

Trader Joe’s: $2.99 per 10 ounce jar (29.9 cents per ounce)

Target: $3.19 per 10 ounce jar (31.9 cents per ounce)

Winner: Whole Foods

Written by Sally French and Jessica Marmor Shaw of MarketWatch

(Source: MarketWatch)

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