Whole Foods vs. Traditional Grocery Store Price Comparison

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SUPERMARKET WARS

As Amazon prepares to acquire Whole Foods Market, the natural and organic grocer is facing increased pressure from conventional supermarkets. Last year, Cheapism.com explored the aisles and managed to find 20 items that were less expensive at Whole Foods than at a nearby Safeway -- many of them organic products from Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value brand. But after years of growth, Whole Foods saw comparable-store sales decrease 2.5 percent in 2016, a trend that has continued into 2017.

We've put Whole Foods to the test again on the same items and added a few new categories, this time comparing prices against another of the nation's largest grocers: Kroger, which has its own Simple Truth store brand of natural and organic products. In this price comparison of stores near Dayton, Ohio, Kroger undercut Whole Foods on just over half of the 26 types of products we compared -- and often on the organics that are considered Whole Foods' niche.

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NON-DAIRY MILK

Winner: Kroger
Kroger easily topped Whole Foods in this category. Shelf-stable cartons of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic almond milk were $2.19, while the same size carton of Kroger's Simple Truth almond milk was $1.79 regularly and $1.59 on sale. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic soy milk was $1.89 for a 32-ounce carton, while Kroger's store-brand organic soy milk was the same price as the almond milk ($1.79 and $1.59 on sale).

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FETA CHEESE

Winner: Whole Foods
Cheeses tend to be pricey at Whole Foods, but we found a 16-ounce container of 365 Everyday Value feta for $6.99, which comes to about 44 cents an ounce. At Kroger, the Murray's brand was $11.99 a pound, or 75 cents an ounce.

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ORGANIC BUTTER

Winner: Kroger
Kroger edged out Whole Foods with a lower price on store-brand organic butter. A 16-ounce package bearing the Simple Truth label was $4.49 at Kroger, while Whole Foods was charging $4.99 for its 365 Everyday Value brand.

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ORGANIC POPCORN

Winner: Whole Foods
Whole Foods still rules on organic popcorn: It stocked 6-ounce bags of 365 Everyday Value organic pre-popped popcorn for $2.29; Kroger's Simple Truth brand bags held 1.6 ounces less for $2.19. Even at a price of $2 on sale at Kroger, popcorn was cheaper at Whole Foods: 38 cents an ounce compared with 45 cents at Kroger.

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FROZEN BERRIES

Winner: Whole Foods
At Whole Foods, a 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value brand strawberries was $2, or about 13 cents an ounce -- far less expensive than Kroger's Private Selection strawberries, which were $3.69 for the same size package, or 23 cents an ounce. A 12-ounce bag of blueberries from Whole Foods was $3, or 25 cents an ounce, while 16 ounces of blueberries at Kroger cost $4.99, or 31 cents an ounce. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value raspberries were $3 for 12 ounces; the same amount cost $2 more at Kroger.

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ORGANIC FROZEN VEGETABLES

Winner: Whole Foods
Whole Foods doesn't compete on price for most conventional frozen vegetables the way it does on conventional frozen berries, but organic vegetables are a different story. A 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value organic kale was $3, or 19 cents an ounce, while Kroger's Simple Truth brand was $2.39 for 10 ounces, or 24 cents an ounce. Organic corn was $2 for 16 ounces, or about 13 cents an ounce, at Whole Foods; it was $1.49 for 10 ounces, or 15 cents an ounce, at Kroger. The same price difference holds for a bag of organic mixed veggies.

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ORGANIC CHICKEN BROTH

Winner: Kroger
Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic chicken broth sold for $2.29, but the same size carton from Kroger's Simple Truth brand was just $1.99. Consumers who prefer the Pacific brand will also find savings at Kroger, where a 32-ounce carton of Pacific organic free-range chicken broth cost $3.69, 60 cents cheaper than at Whole Foods.

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ORGANIC CANNED BEANS

Winner: Kroger
From black to garbanzo, beans are an inexpensive protein source no matter where you shop, but they were cheaper at Kroger. Assorted 15-ounce cans of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic beans were $1.25, while a Simple Truth can of the same size was $1 at the traditional grocery store.

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ORGANIC MAPLE SYRUP

Winner: Whole Foods
You can set the breakfast table for less by picking up a bottle of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic maple syrup, at $19.99 for 32 ounces, instead of Kroger's Simple Truth syrup, at $5.99 for 8 ounces. That's 62 cents vs. 75 cents an ounce. Kroger did have the syrup on sale for $5.09; at that price, Whole Foods still wins by a penny an ounce.

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OLIVE OIL

Winner: Kroger
Interestingly, Kroger undercut Whole Foods on organic olive oil: A 33.8-ounce jar of organic 365 Everyday Value extra virgin olive oil cost $12.99 at Whole Foods, while Kroger wanted $5.49 for 17 ounces of its Simple Truth brand. That's 38.4 cents an ounce at Whole Foods and 32 cents at Kroger. A 33.8-ounce jar of non-organic 365 Everyday Value olive oil was $6.99 at the specialty grocer. The same size jar of Kroger Private Selection is regularly $7.19 but was $5.69 on sale when we shopped.

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BALSAMIC VINEGAR

Winner: Whole Foods
Pairing that olive oil with balsamic is still cheaper at Whole Foods: $2.99 for a 16.9-ounce bottle of the 365 Everyday Value brand. Kroger's Private Selection brand was the same price for a smaller, 12.7-ounce bottle.

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ORGANIC AGAVE

Winner: Kroger
You can sweeten baked goods or morning coffee with a 23.5-ounce bottle of 365 Everyday Value organic light agave nectar for $6.49 at Whole Foods -- or pay $5.69 for the same size bottle from Kroger's Simple Truth brand. If you prefer raw agave, the prices are neck and neck.

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ORGANIC COCONUT OIL

Winner: Kroger
Whole Foods might seem like the place to buy this trendy product, offering a 365 Everyday Value jar at $5.99 for 14 ounces. But Kroger's Simple Truth brand was $5.49 regularly and $4.89 on sale. If you prefer unrefined coconut oil, Kroger still wins, at $6.29 vs. $6.99 at Whole Foods.

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ORGANIC MUSTARD

Winner: Kroger
At the height of the summer grilling season, Kroger had the lower price on an organic version of this favorite condiment. A 14-ounce bottle of 365 Everyday Value organic yellow mustard cost $2.69, or about 19 cents an ounce, vs. $1.49 for a 12-ounce bottle of Kroger's Simple Truth, or about 12 cents an ounce.

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ORGANIC SALSA

Winner: Kroger
If you want to go organic when topping tortilla chips, Whole Foods again loses out to Kroger. Its 365 Everyday Value brand was $2.99 for 16 ounces. Kroger's Simple Truth salsa was $2.39 for the same size jar (and was named best organic mild salsa in a Cheapism taste test).

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CEREAL

Winner: Kroger
Popular varieties of EnviroKidz cereal were $3.29 at Whole Foods but rang up at $2.99 on Kroger's registers. Kroger also topped Whole Foods for Kashi Go Lean, with a price of $3.19 for 10- to 14-ounce boxes, compared with $3.49 at Whole Foods. Kroger takes a triple crown in this category for selling 10.6-ounce boxes of Nature's Path for $2.99 each, while Whole Foods charged $3.29.

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KIND BARS

Winner: Whole Foods
For consumers constantly racing from one thing to the next, snack bars provide much-needed sustenance on the go but can get expensive. Less so at Whole Foods, which offered boxes of five bars for $3.99, while Kroger was asking $4.99 for boxes of four.

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ORGANIC SPICES

Winner: Kroger
Kroger beats Whole Foods when it comes to common organic spices. For instance, we saw 1.59 ounces of cumin for $3.99 at Whole Foods, compared with $3.49, or $3.09 on sale, for 1.68 ounces at Kroger. Whole Foods wanted $2.99 for a .35-ounce jar of organic oregano; Kroger charged $2.99, or $2.69 on sale, for half an ounce of its Simple Truth brand.

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ORGANIC PEANUT BUTTER

Winner: Whole Foods
Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic peanut butter was $5.99 for 28 ounces, or about 21 cents an ounce. It edges out Kroger's Simple Truth brand, which was $3.99 for 16 ounces but $3.49 on sale. That's 25 cents an ounce regularly and 22 cents an ounce with the price break.

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ORGANIC JELLY

Winner: Kroger
Completing a PB&J with a 17-ounce jar of 365 Everyday Value organic jam would cost $3.99. It's cheaper to buy 16.5-ounce jars of the Simple Truth brand at Kroger for $3.59, a savings of a couple of cents an ounce.

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GOAT CHEESE

Winner: Whole Foods
Fans of creamy chèvre can buy an 11-ounce log of the 365 Everyday Value brand for $5.49 at Whole Foods. Kroger was charging $9.99 for 10.5 ounces of the Vermont Creamery brand or $14.99 for 16 ounces of Boar's Head. Either way, Whole Foods shoppers come out way ahead.

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NUTS AND SEEDS

Winner: Whole Foods
Whole Foods wins out when it comes to crunchy, protein-packed nuts. A 16-ounce package of whole almonds cost $6.99 at Whole Foods, while 14 ounces were $8.49, or $7.79 on sale, at Kroger. Whole Foods asked $7.99 for 16 ounces of cashews, while Kroger was selling 13 ounces for $9.29. If you like to munch on sunflower seeds, Whole Foods is the place to shop: 12 ounces were $1.99, while Kroger wanted $3.49 for just 2 ounces more.

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ORGANIC PASTA

Winner: Whole Foods
On organic pasta, Kroger and Whole Foods are neck and neck: 16-ounce boxes of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic pasta were $1.49, and Kroger's Simple Truth boxes cost the same (although they were selling for a dime less on sale). If you need to pick up some organic macaroni and cheese for the kids, though, Whole Foods is a clear winner: Its 6-ounce store-brand boxes were $1.19 each, compared with $1.69 for Kroger's store brand.

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SPECIALTY FROZEN DESSERTS

Winner: Tie
Kroger and Whole Foods matched prices on the popular low-sugar, high-protein Halo Top ice cream at $5.49 a pint. Talenti gelato, however, was much cheaper at Whole Foods, where it was $3.49 a pint; Kroger wanted $4.99. But Kroger came out ahead on So Delicious' non-dairy ice cream alternatives, charging $4.29 a pint for soy-milk desserts and $4.99 for cashew- or coconut-milk varieties. All kinds were $5.99 a pint at Whole Foods.

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YOGURT

Winner: Kroger
Kroger is the big winner for this protein-packed treat: We saw 32 ounces of plain organic Simple Truth yogurt for $2.79, while the same size tub of 365 Everyday Value was $3.49 at Whole Foods. Partial to the Noosa brand? An 8-ounce tub was $2.50 at Whole Foods and $1.99 at Kroger. Fage's 5.3-ounce cups were $1.50 at Whole Foods and $1.39 at Kroger. More of a Siggi fan? Those 5.3-ounce cups were $1.69 at Whole Foods and $1.39 at Kroger.

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APPLESAUCE/FRUIT POUCHES

Winner: Kroger
Popular kid-friendly snacks were also cheaper at Kroger. A 24-ounce jar of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value applesauce was $3, while the same size jar of Kroger's Simple Truth brand was $2.69. Prefer the convenience of pouches? The popular GoGo Squeez brand was much less pricey at Kroger: $2.79 (or $2.49 on sale) for four pouches vs. $3.99 at Whole Foods.