Canadian Whole Foods Stores Examined Under Amazon Ownership

(Unionville store. Photo: Whole Foods) 

(Unionville store. Photo: Whole Foods) 

By Mario Toneguzzi

Recent news has reported that some Whole Foods stores in the United States are in disarray following the Amazon takeover with supply issues creating problems and some empty shelves at certain locations.

Is the same issue popping up in Canada?

Field Agent Canada embarked on a consumer survey one recent weekend to find out what is happening in Canada’s Whole Foods stores. 

Quite simply, the survey discovered that Canadian stores are generally well-stocked - a huge contrast to what was found south of the border.

Jeff Doucette, general manager of Field Agent Canada, a retail audit and market research firm whose platform is powered by a smartphone app, said there are 85,000 users across Canada.

Jeff Doucette , general manager of Field Agent CanadA. Photo: LinkedIn

Jeff Doucette, general manager of Field Agent CanadA. Photo: LinkedIn

“We use those users to complete in-store audits or respond to surveys and that sort of thing. It’s a research panel driven through a smartphone platform versus traditional research which is online or in-person,” said Doucette. 

Doucette was responding recently to research in the United States that found the produce sections of some Whole Foods stores were having supply problems stocking their shelves.

“So we covered the 13 stores in Canada and we found that the results were really opposite of what was happening in the U.S. The Canadian stores were well-stocked, well-merchandised, neat and tidy. There weren’t the problems that were being noted in the U.S. stores which probably speaks to a unique management approach of the 13 locations that are here in Canada,” said Doucette.

BC Whole Foods Locations (use arrows to scroll through photos per city)

There are four stores in Vancouver, three in Toronto and one each in Ottawa, Burnaby, Oakville, Mississauga, Markham and Victoria.

“Our users are everyday shoppers. The people who have downloaded our app we pay them to go and complete audits or surveys in-store while they’re shopping so basically (that one morning) there would have been a pop-up on people’s phones saying ‘if you’re going to Whole Foods today complete this task’ . . . and when they’re in the store we ask them to go to the produce aisle and rate the in-stock of produce on a scale of one to five and all the answers were either fours or fives,” said Doucette.

Ontario Whole Foods Locations (use arrows to scroll through photos per city)

Shoppers were also asked to take two pictures of the produce department to verify what that looked like.

“Compare that with what we saw in the U.S. study where they were clear out of stock, empty bins. If you can imagine a section where onions normally are and all that’s left are the skins that have fallen off the onions,” added Doucette. 


Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email:   

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