“How to Double Your Money on ‘The Next Whole Foods'”

by Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe | April 9, 2013 3:52 pm

Sniffing out the rapidly expanding natural food chain touted by Keith Fitz-Gerald

Today’s tease comes in for the Money Map Report, in some articles where they hint around about the best way to double your money on the stock they think can be the “Next Whole Foods.” The pick is by Keith Fitz-Gerald, but We get a bit of an introduction from Steve Christ in a free article lead-in to the ad:

“There’s an incredible new trend brewing right now. And it’s incredibly profitable too…

“… this particular industry has grown from “only” $3.6 billion a year in 1997 to more than $31.5 billion today.

“That’s especially impressive when you consider that this growth – all 775% of it – occurred during the greatest sustained economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“You see, the industry – and a company that just went public in July – is set up to benefit from an extreme cultural shift that’s gaining speed and strength every day.

“I’m talking about the movement towards ‘real’ food-not ‘fake.'”

And this …

“Whole Foods has plans to nearly triple … to about 1,000 stores by moving into suburban and other underserved markets.

“According to Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald, that’s just a sign of what’s to come in the organic food industry.

“‘People are becoming acutely aware of what they put in their bodies’ Keith said, ‘and they don’t want it to be genetically modified, full of high-fructose corn syrup, or created with chemicals, herbicides, preservatives, and growth hormones.'”

Well … not everyone is becoming acutely aware. Coca Cola still sells more than one serving of their products (mostly Coke and Diet Coke) per person, per day in the United States, and we are notoriously eager to try every new processed convenience food — from the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich (the absurd Uncrustables are 15 years old this year!) to the pressurized can of pancake batter.

But yes, I agree this is a trend that’s not likely to crest anytime soon — more organic, more natural, hopefully less processed (though I’m a sucker for organic and natural convenience foods myself).

So how do we play that trend as an investment? Well, there’s always Whole Foods (WFM), of course, a stock I like but have never owned (I can’t seem to get the timing right on that one — when it has dipped or seen lower prices, I wasn’t paying attention to it … though it’s actually looking pretty good to me again lately, I’m in the process of taking a closer look).

But Whole Foods is already pretty big. Not huge — larger grocery chains like Kroger and Supervalu have close to 2,500 stores each, Safeway comes in close at about 1,500, Whole Foods has about 350 stores, with ambitions to continue increasing that store count by 5-10% per year and an assertion that they can easily reach 1,000 stores in the United States without saturating the market.

And Whole Foods has been a remarkable growth engine for investors for many years — since well before it was touted as the “New American Super Brand” by the Motley Fool brothers in the early days of Stock Gumshoe (that was six years ago — though they still own it and tease it now and again), but when you’ve got a big growth company that looks a little bit expensive, with fears that the growth may be petering out or cresting, you can bet that someone will try to sell you on the idea that there’s an up-and-comer ready to eat their lunch.

So that’s what we’ve got today — Keith Fitz-Gerald thinks he’s found the “next Whole Foods.” Here’s how he hints around about this one in the attempt to get you to subscribe to the Money Map Report for the full story:

“As Whole Foods becomes referred to as ‘Whole Paychecks’ among more and more shoppers, consumers will look elsewhere for cheaper organic products.

“That’s where this company has a competitive advantage with its much smaller stores. As a result, they are able to offer prices 8%-10% lower than Whole Foods.

“What’s more, the company offers entirely organic and natural products, whereas Whole Foods offers a combination of organic and non-organic products.

“You may not think this is a big deal, but there’s a hidden benefit since it means shoppers don’t have to waste their time reading labels. They can rest assured that every last item has been pre-screened before it hits the shelves.

“… here’s where the payoff really is for investors: the company used the $54 million it raised in its share offering to pay off debt and can now fund its expansion with a clean slate. Very few companies have this luxury….

“… the company plans to expand its store count by 20% a year.

“And with just 60 stores currently in operation and the prospect of 1,000 stores in the future, that’s practically like buying Whole Foods at the beginning of its run.

“Since the company’s stock began trading publicly in July 2012, shares have gained 34.36%. Says Keith: ‘I don’t expect the price to stay so low for long.'”

And the note also adds that this pick was recommended in the Money Map Report in their December issue … which would mean they’re already doing pretty well. The pick being teased is Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NGVC), and the shares were mostly around $20 in December and they’ve recently been on a spike up to around $24 — though this is a new and pretty thinly-traded small stock, with a market cap of only about $500 million, so it’s been a very bumpy ride since the IPO, with quite a few weeks when the stock was up or down 10%.

The stock is not obviously cheap, and it’s pretty heavily shorted, but it’s not wildly out of line with the valuation of Whole Foods or the other specialty grocery chains. There aren’t that many really comparable publicly traded stocks — there’s The Fresh Market (TFM), which is more of a gourmet shop chain but also appeals to a similar demographic, but really the main competition for Natural Grocers is Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (still privately held) and your local small natural grocery store or regional chain.

So how do they stack up? Here’s a wee bit of a chart for you:

Whole Foods Natural Grocers
Price/Sales 1.28 1.5
Forward Price/Earnings (estimated) 25 40
Expected Annual Earnings Growth (next five years) 19% 26.5%
PEG Ratio 1.55 1.73
Store Count 344 59
Market Capitalization $15.5 billion $550 million

These companies are not all that comparable on meany measures — the average Natural Grocers shop is about 10,000 square feet, similar to Trader Joe’s and of necessity pretty limited in scope, and the average Whole Foods is 38,000 square feet, much more like a smaller traditional supermarket. Natural Grocers does indeed focus on being more restrictive than Whole Foods, refusing to sell any non-organic produce, but both have restrictions on what they sell (no artificial flavors or colors, no bleached flour, lots of forbidden chemical ingredients) — the spiel is that Natural Grocers is so much more careful that you don’t have to check to see if the produce is organic or read the label, they only sell the good stuff. They also don’t offer prepared foods or the big variety of meats that Whole Foods does — which is probably part of the reason (along with economies of scale) that WFM can squeeze out a larger profit margin (4% vs. 2% as of last year).

Will that mean they can take market share away from Whole Foods? Or expand quickly enough to build businesses in smaller areas before Whole Foods can establish a presence? Well, maybe, though I suspect that they’re more likely to supplement and coexist with Whole Foods (much as Trader Joe’s does) in many markets, and in smaller markets they’d be more likely to hurt the small local natural foods shops and coops. I expect we’ll find that this trend toward more natural and organic food is large enough to support a lot of businesses — and clearly, there are a large number of traditional supermarkets (not all) that just can’t or don’t provide the ethical, health or wellness products (and reassurance, and vibe) that many shoppers want.

It’s an interesting business, with a strong social trend backing them up and a pretty rapid growth plan — but when I browse through the numbers I feel a bit more comfortable with Whole Foods. That’s mostly because they’ve built an incredible national brand and have had very solid growth over a long period of time (though sales did decline during the last recession before bouncing back up), and they’ve proven that they can gobble up any competitors who are worth eating — like the last natural foods darling to come out of Colorado, Wild Oats Markets, which they bought a few years back. NGVC is just so very, very tiny with only 60 stores that it seems likely they’ll make expansion mistakes that would really hit their bottom line — or simply be more expensive than expected. Whole Foods also carries no debt, and they have a small but rising dividend of 1% (and one that they can easily afford to grow even as they invest in significant store growth over the next two years, it’s only about a 30% payout ratio right now).

Whole Foods is also clearly tracking the urban and suburban success of Trader Joe’s and other small specialty and natural foods stores, and they’re being flexible with their expansion — I doubt they’ll open many 10,000 square foot stores, but they are going smaller for some locales where a 40,000 square foot natural supermarket just can’t sell enough to survive.

Perhaps my initial reaction that I’m more comfortable with the big guy than with the upstart is because I don’t know NGVC at all, and I think investors are generally too eager to jump on the “up and coming” pick and to underestimate the huge power of a large store count and an established brand. In truth, the expanding natural foods business is probably going to help all of these companies — and having a huge player like Whole Foods preaching the gospel and creating a national market and demand should also help to drive acceptance of more niche products and drive down prices of natural foods as consumption increases.

I’ve never been in a Natural Grocers, and I shop at Whole Foods with some regularity — Natural Grocers started in Colorado and is mostly spread across the Western half of the country, so although they had a pretty good IPO and their stock is doing quite well right now, it may also be that they won’t get the full measure of respect from Wall Street analysts until they have a store in Westchester, NY or Greenwich, CT. And I probably won’t make my way into one of their stores until they hit Massachusetts. Both companies have strong leadership teams, with John Macke at Whole Foods always ruffling a few feathers somewhere and with the founding family of Natural Grocers still calling the shots.

So what do you think? Interested in picking up some natural foods shares (and you can throw in suppliers like Hain Celestial (HAIN) or Annie’s (BNNY) to the mix if you like)? Have a preference for the more rapid growth of the new guys at NGVC (that’s not fair — the company’s actually older, only their big expansion is new) or for the much larger, slower growing and perhaps yuppie-tainted and less-organic Whole Foods? Let us know with a comment below.


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  1. David L
    Apr 9 2013, 04:27:55 pm

    Investors who are also foodies will undoubtedly wait for Wegmans to go public, as the chain has incredible brand loyalty towards its stores and products.

  2. Roger Bond
    Apr 9 2013, 04:41:11 pm

    Health foods are a different animal, for sure, but grocery in general has usually been plagued with tight margins – though that may now be different since all but 1 major chain is most areas has been driven out.

    Here in this part of Texas you have H.E.B. and… H.E.B. But of course you need to throw in Super Walmart & Super Target as competitors. When one looks at selection and price one gets the impression that each is a monopoly, though.

    Roger

  3. Jim Bandler
    Apr 9 2013, 04:46:49 pm

    I would be much more concerned by WalMart expanding into the natural foods area. I understand they are just trying it in a few select stores. NGVC is not for me.

  4. FarmGirl
    Apr 9 2013, 05:00:47 pm

    When I lived in Colorado, I shopped at NGVC first, Wild Oats second, and Whole Paycheck third. Same quality (if you read the labels) with lower prices at NGVC.

  5. Peter
    Apr 9 2013, 05:03:30 pm

    Dear Gumshoe–
    This is my first comment in the years I have gumshoed. I live in Austin, TX , and naturally go to stores here. I soon gave up on Whole Foods, it is so outrageously high-priced—for ordinary people, although of course perfectly ok for the affluent and positively rich people who crowd this city . I discovered Natural Grocers some months ago, and though I wouldn’t call it cheap its prices are reasonable and the quality of its products is high.
    I predict it would be a profitable stock to own.

  6. bruce
    Apr 9 2013, 05:09:59 pm

    I actually owned this one prior to your write up for a change. Other things being equal I like the fact that it is new and in a high growth phase. It looks like they are purests so will have a nitch market in the larger population areas. thanks for the bump in price your article will probably give the stock.

  7. Enzo
    Apr 9 2013, 05:27:49 pm

    I live in Evergreen (Colorado) and, trying to buy only organics, the presence here of a Natural Grocers (which we still call Vitamin Cottage) shop is a most happy circumstance in my life. We buy there about three times a week, as Travis say we completely trust whatever we buy, since they sell only good stuff; people there are extremely friendly (they are friends, actually) and they all look very happy to work there. From the purely financial aspect, it would be hard to say if NG is a good investment. I don`t think that their aim is to completely satisfy the investor in the first place, their priority is to satisfy the customer. They have also been expanding from the original Colorado to much of the SouthWest and, now, beyond. Not a rabid expansion, rather a solid and cautious one. Then it just depends on how far the American people can go in appreciating Organics. They`d better do, considering the state of their health and physical condition. And the awful addiction to industrialized food. )(

  8. Carls
    Apr 9 2013, 06:12:14 pm

    NGVC has too many brothers and sisters running the company because they semi-inherited it from their parents who were in the “health food” business. They look too nice (internet photos) and look too neat and vegetarian looking. Whole Foods leaders have killer instincts so NGVC cannot compete head to head against Whole Foods.

    Whole Foods has the right idea with their product mix in not going the purist route NGVC has. I am familiar with this “industry” and do not own WF stock. I don’t shop there much because I know many tricks for getting my natural foods without paying WF prices. But…. WF hits the sweet spot as far as catering to a large class of health oriented shoppers 90% female. NGVC seems to overdo in organic purity which will price out too many shoppers.

    Check out Swanson vitamins, what a great mail order company that undercuts all WF vitamin prices. Too bad they are privately owned. I buy vitamins/supplements at WF only when I am caught between Swanson’s orders

  9. Jan K
    Apr 9 2013, 06:24:24 pm

    I was so disgusted with Whole Paychecks CEO’s attitudes and politics I sold the stock I had held for some time. Natural Grocers seems like it might be a good place to try. We love Trader Joes, though. Any possibility that they’ll go public?

    • 18
      aunt_barb
      May 6 2013, 07:42:58 pm

      I’m with you, Jan; I really want to invest in Trader Joe’s, but, alas….
      Given there are thousands like us, I think NG has a better-than-average chance of both steady growth and “investability.” I’m going to either sell some cautious puts on it today or, if they don’t exist, just go long for a small morsel.

      • 13 |
        Mark Ament
        Jun 21 2013, 10:24:45 pm

        I believe that Trader Joes is a subsidiary of the German grocery chain which also owns the Aldiss chain. I don’t think any spin-off is in the works so it’s unlikely we’ll get a shot at TJ stock. We don’t have NGVC here in KY, just Whole Foods, Fresh Market (smaller and even more expensive) and Earth Fare, also smaller and a local natural foods chain. Whole Foods still dominates.

        • 7475 |
          Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
          Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
          Jun 21 2013, 11:14:02 pm

          Yes, TJs is owned by the Albrecht family, which bought it in the early 1970s — the family also founded ALDI (which, like Wal-Mart, was and is a discount-focused retailer focused on putting stores in cheap locations, getting discounted products, and selling them cheaper than anyone else … it also borrowed the founder’s name, ALDI was short for ALbrecht DIscount). There are also reportedly more than a thousand ALDI shops in the US, in my experience they tend to make WalMart and the dollar stores look like Whole Foods, but they are cheap cheap cheap.

          Trader Joe’s seems not to need any financing unless there’s trouble handling the Albrecht estate as they churn generations, and given the structure of the company that seems unlikely. They own thousands of stores in the US and Germany and have systemwide sales of an estimated $35 billion, I don’t know what their finances are like but if you can get that far without being publicly traded and dealing with that hassle and loss of control it’s hard to argue that they should go public. Much as I’d like to own some Trader Joe’s shares at the right price.

  10. 59 |
    Thomas Paolini
    Apr 9 2013, 06:38:55 pm

    I live in New Hampshire and althoug the closet WF is Andover MA 25 miles or so I am a frequent shopper there. (it’s my favorite restaurant at the salad bar), I do find some things actually less at WF then at the local grocers such as Shaw’s or Stop and Shop in their organic section. I can’t afford to do my weekly shopping there but when I stop in for a salad I get get my coffee beans, lemons, whole grains etc. These I find less money if not equal in price, and I trust them more at WF. I would welcome a Natural Grocers in my neighborhood but probably not likely. I appreciate the stock tip as I find it could be a possible buy out if not a growth opportunity.

  11. George
    Apr 9 2013, 06:43:10 pm

    I would imagine that consumer coops are a limiting factor to expansion in some areas. Here in the Pacific NW we have PCC, which has slowly been expanding, and offers a very good and (importantly) trustworthy selection. They have no qualms locating a store between a Whole Foods and Safeway, and seem to do quite well (the parking lot is always full). Does anyone think that such nonprofits have a significant effect?

  12. vivian lewis
    Apr 9 2013, 06:54:29 pm

    the politics: the head of Whole Paycheck publcly opposed Obamacare because it would add to labor costs but of course also do good for people who cannot shop there. my East Midtown Manhattan neighborhood good a WF about a year ago and its prices are terrifying. We only go in with a specific item to buy carrying our bag (to save 10 Cents) even though it is convenient. But impulse buying is the road to bankruptcy for this financial editor and sometime hausfrau

  13. vivian lewis
    Apr 9 2013, 06:57:26 pm

    who controls what is organic and regulates the label. who says something is free of pesticides and herbicides and penicillin. you are selling a fantasy at a high price with all this organic stuff wherever it is sold, unless you know the farmer and trust him or her.

    • 7475 |
      Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
      Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
      Apr 9 2013, 07:41:39 pm

      Vivian, I’m starting to think you might be a cynic 🙂

      In all seriousness, the ongoing uncertainty over what organic, natural, cruelty-free and all the other terms really mean reinforces the power of the brand — one of the strengths of a brand is the trust that you’re getting what you pay for, and I think WF has done amazingly well building that brand. You can see this in the power of BNNY, too — parents trust their natural Mac and cheese, and they’ve turned that into a broad line of premium priced natural prepared foods with a strong brand.

      • ezmony
        Apr 11 2013, 08:42:28 am

        You may want to drop the term “cruelty-free” and replace with less cruel. Your comment brought back memories of my grandmother’s farm and her fried chicken for Sunday dinner. After cornering two of the unlucky chickens and with one in each hand swinging them around until necks were sufficiently wrung then taking them to a standing log to chop their heads off and hanging them to bleed out while still writhing……”cruelty-free” seems unlikely. Nothing could be more orgainic than that dinner, but cruelty-free, forget it. These memories are more than 50 years old and of a breed long gone….she lived on that farm alone for over 35 years completely self-sufficient. When I say self-sufficient I mean it and could elaborate by telling a story about her run in with a couple of “Feds” peddling some goverment cheese program in the late 50’s early 60’s,……. but don’t want to spoil the image. LOL

    • T
      Apr 9 2013, 09:08:03 pm

      The USDA regulates the “Organic” label in the United States, and several other developed nations have their own regulatory bodies. Companies go through certifying agents and must meet strict guidelines before they’re allowed to use the word in association with their product labeling and/or advertising. Here though, the USDA literally controls the word’s use commercially.

    • Dave
      Apr 9 2013, 11:46:17 pm

      >>you are selling a fantasy at a high price with all this organic stuff<<
      Vivian, exactly right. But if we can profit from this quasi-religion, why not? In that regard, I think I'd lean in the direction of WF. I'm surrounded by them here in the SF Bay Area (and the stores are always packed with eager buyers right up until closing time) but I prefer to shop in the local produce stores (Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Mkt, and the many Asian produce mkts) selling fabulous cheap non-organic produce brimming with all the same vits/mins/fiber that are found in the organic section at twice the price.

      • Jim
        Apr 10 2013, 09:33:14 pm

        Well, that “Organic Stuff” as you put it is used in alternative cancer clinics to help cure cancer. You know, the disease helped a lot by food additives and ground chemicals. I know because I was treated in one in Mexico and they saved my life after the conventional treatments, failed. My cancer type is 98% fatal. Love those organics. 10 years in complete remission after being left for “End Stage”. Gotta Love that.

          • Jim
            Apr 12 2013, 11:45:55 am

            Hi Dave,

            Well, I would. There are alternative clinics that use only organic diet to cure cancers. Personally, I prefer using “Both Barrels” when it comes to a virulent cancers. The value in the organic diet is that many of the natural cancer fighters are mild and should be used in a healthy environment in the body. Hence, detox and organic diet prior to the other treatments. The clinics know, they have been doing this for decades.
            Jim

        • Harold
          May 3 2013, 07:09:52 pm

          Jim, I’m so happy to hear about your health.
          I’ve got something similar, I was wondering if
          You’d share where you went.
          I’d sure appreciate it.
          Thanks!

          • Pam Kimball
            Aug 21 2013, 02:02:11 pm

            I, too, am happy to hear about this remission (10 years, that has got to be a great record).
            My neighbor had some kind of cancer and went very organic, lots of purist type vitamins & nutrients (buys via mail from Swanson, mentioned above by someone) and did emotional work, too… He’s doing fine. Also, about 20 years ago, my Dad (“Harold”), had bladder cancer, they cut out a tumor, did a round or so of some kind of chemo, and my sister made him lots & lots of carrot and ginger (and onion, I guess?) soup: remission. (The vegetables were not organic.) I get the impression that lightly cooked vegetables – cruciferous, vitamin A rich vegetables, etc – are the best way to go. Good luck, maybe you have a speedy & complete recovery. I hope Dave answered your question, but if not, maybe you can google alternative cancer clinics in N.M. or whatever.

          • Jim Gibson
            Aug 22 2013, 05:29:44 pm

            I was treated at the Issels Clinic in Tia Juana, Mexico. It was founded by a German Doctor with many decades of experience with alternative cancer treatment. They are located within the Angeles Hospital, a medical tourism establishment. Check out http://www.issels.com and you can view my video testimonial on Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). Or, check out my web page http://www.SurvivingSmallCell.com.

            on the subject of organic foods, I have seen spectrometer printouts showing the nutrient content of organic vs non-organic. The non-organic foods have their nitrogen content elevated presumably because of the fertilizer used. They also have fewer essential vitamins and minerals, I suppose for the same reason. Not a good thing when you are trying to change the body so that tumors will find it inhospitable and check out (no Hotel California if you get my drift).

            Every day is a good day when the sun comes up and I am there to see it.

            Ciao!

  14. pedrobrophy
    Apr 9 2013, 08:35:32 pm

    I am very familiar with VCNG. They are a completely different animal than WFM. It is a pretty bare bones operaton, which probably derives a very large % of their profits (an educated guess would be 40% because of the markup) from supplements, rather than food items. There is a 70’s “co-op” feel to the stores, which are small, understaffed and often virtually empty of customers compared to any WFM I have ever been in. My impression of management is poor. The stores are far from impressive, and appear understaffed. I believe they benefit from cheap rent by locating in marginal storespace…in my Littleton, CO neighborhood they occupy half of a closed Safeway space (the other half is a cheapo “party” store). The low rent enables them to survive with considerably less traffic than the large WFM in a modern shopping area across the street. The produce dept is all organic, but limited, and the prices are much better than WFM. That said, the packaged or bottle items, the dairy, and the limited prepared items (they don’t do any of their own prep foods) are no bargain. Bulk spices are inexpensive, but there is no self serve like at WFM or another local chain, “Sprouts” (That’s one I would invest in if it were public). They have an ambitious buildout plan, or so they say, but the Denver footprint would not encourage me to believe they have any great franchise. There is no “customer experience” here to write home about. Based on my personal experience, I would say it would be a major stretch to see these guys being “the next Whole Foods”.

  15. Kathy H
    Apr 9 2013, 09:30:19 pm

    The GMO-non GMO controversy is gaining steam now. I have heard more than once that Whole Foods is selling GMO products while Trader Joe’s does not. Stores that really do sell only healthy products may do better in the long run.
    I don’t have stock in any of these stores.

    • 7475 |
      Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
      Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
      Apr 9 2013, 09:47:26 pm

      Yes, that seems to be gaining some steam — hard to avoid non-GMO grains in the US, and, in some respects, hard to draw the line on what GMO means. Whole Foods seems to be focusing on creating a labeling regime, which is how the rbgh fight began for dairy products about 20 years ago.

  16. david l.
    Apr 9 2013, 09:53:26 pm

    Let me preface this by saying that I have made a lot of money on WFM. I like the idea of healthy food and was happy to own this stock and in my mind support what i felt a supermarket with a conscience should be. i ignored Mackey’s rants and watched the earnings and the brand grow and grow. Initially I was worried about the whole paycheck theme but I saw WFM respond with a private label house brand that was reasonably priced and of quite good quality. I listened to all the “shorts” and naysayers on the yahoo message board who must have lost quite a bit on this stock. I bought more during the downturn in 2008 and am quite happy. WFM has a loyal following as it is a lifestyle brand and I believe there is something intangible that people love. I have sold some of my holdings in WFM over the years and have always regretted it even though a profit is a profit. WFM is tough to beat.

  17. Robert
    Apr 9 2013, 09:57:49 pm

    I’ve been using an online organic shop called greenpolkadotbox. Its a club type membership, but extremely reasonable in my opinion, and so far seem to have the lowest prices out there. Family run operation thats going national.

  18. 30
    Cathy Kandravi
    Apr 9 2013, 11:29:36 pm

    I just want to be so pure and buy the right foods to eat with the right artificial coloring and temperature and just love those signs for the special and than to wait behind someone with coupons so you can make friends. What a feeling to get to your car or truck and load up your bio plastic food bags what a great feeling, I guess you always judge the super market by there bathrooms you know with all those natural cleaning chemicals in the store there bathroom will be clean with that employee wash your hand video. But the real treat is if they get the Govt. subsidized fuel to fill up your vehicle on the way home. Kind of makes you think they grow the crops out back next to the warehouse and it is fresh because it is so close. One thing that really helps is knowing some good truckers that travel the country delivering all these products. They have a tough job it just goes with the territory. But to all the Whole Foods or Krogers or Giant Foods or Super Value or Public’s, etc. any store chains big or small, the product comes from the same place and it goes with the seasons as to where the ship and grow the crops or animals. The real key is in the advertising , why do so many food chains sell there brand and the same store sell the premium brands , it is the color of the package and there is just a few that are premium products. So if you really think the difference is quality you are right go to any local farmers market on a seasonal basis, the rest is all about where you live as far as the cost structure, the income level of your neighborhood controls the price. All the majors are controlled by two things advertising and ETIDBA or some word that means down to the last penny per bite. I don’t know Robert but I think he has advertised me into trying the GREENPOLKADOTBOX and I thank him for that, sorry long winded but I am waiting for a friend to go out for a late supper at the non piano bar buffet approved buy the better business of Capital Gains . Hope they take my money map dividend coupon, don’t take that wrong I like all those news letters I just like the Gumshoe the best, for the most part it is an opinion and I respect most all of them unless they do the drama end of the world thing. Just waiting for the Obama’s wife home school menu for the children episode.

    • Robert
      Apr 10 2013, 07:17:46 am

      Hey Cathy, if you’re serious bout trying the greenpolkadotbox, I may be able to get you a free membership. I’m not connected with it in any way, just a lifetime member. Gumshoe readers may be interested in the fact that they are working on an IPO and have the backing of the Organic Consumers Association, NaturalNews, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and Citizens for Health. In fact, here’s a blurb from an article published by the Organic Consumers Association right after greenpolkadotbox opened:
      “After several years of asking Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other natural food stores to stop selling so-called natural foods tainted with genetically engineered ingredients, or at least to voluntarily label these products, we’re tired of waiting.
      OCA is joining NaturalNews.com, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and Citizens for Health in calling on our members and subscribers to join the Green Polka Dot Box, where you can buy organic and non-GMO foods without wondering whether or not they are properly labeled.”
      Regarding GMO’s, I believe 98% of the corn grown is now GMO with insecticides now in its dna. Watch the movie ‘genetic roulette’, which can be found at geneticroulettemovie.com, it will absolutely blow your mind. Sometimes a company makes a donation and its free to view, sometimes its a couple of bucks to view, the best couple of bucks you will ever spend if you want the true story about GMO foods. They are killing the population. Studies indicate that they are perforating our intestines allowing undigested foods to enter our bodies, causing an allergic reaction. Most likely the reasons for all the allergies that are around now, and were no where to be seen years ago. Farmers report putting a bag of gmo corn next to a bag of non-gmo corn, and the pigs wouldn’t touch the gmo. People working in cotton fields, now genetically manipulated, are all getting ill and bodies covered with lesions.
      Check your babypowder too, if they use corn starch, could be the reason for a reaction.
      Lastly, from naturalsociety, comes a list of the 10 worst foods that are most likely gmo unless you purchased organic versions of them:
      “GMO Foods List: Top 10 Worst Foods
      1. Corn
      One of the most prominent GMO foods, avoiding corn is a no-brainer. If you’ve watched any food documentary, you know corn is highly modified. “As many as half of all U.S. farms growing corn for Monsanto are using genetically modified corn,” and much of it is intended for human consumption. Monsanto’s GMO corn has been tied to numerous health issues, including weight gain and organ disruption.

      2. Soy
      Found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products, soy is also modified to resist herbicides. As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone.

      3. Sugar
      According to NaturalNews, genetically-modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. Like others, they’ve been modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Monsanto has even had USDA and court-related issues with the planting of it’s sugarbeets, being ordered to remove seeds from the soil due to illegal approval.

      4. Aspartame
      Aspartame is a toxic additive used in numerous food products, and should be avoided for numerous reasons, including the fact that it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

      5. Papayas
      This one may come as a surprise to all of you tropical-fruit lovers. GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Though they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union, they are welcome with open arms in the U.S. and Canada.

      6. Canola
      One of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet, canola oil is obtained from rapeseed through a series of chemical actions.

      7. Cotton
      Found in cotton oil, cotton originating in India and China in particular has serious risks.

      8. Dairy
      Your dairy products may contain growth hormones, since as many as one-fifth of all dairy cows in America are pumped with these hormones. In fact, Monasnto’s health-hazardous rBGH has been banned in 27 countries, but is still in most US cows. If you must drink milk, buy organic.

      9. and 10. Zucchini and Yellow Squash
      Closely related, these two squash varieties are modified to resist viruses.

      The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown. Even while these foods should be on your GMO foods list so that they are avoided, you can buy 100% organic to be safest.

      With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.

      The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.”

      Wealth aint no good without Health fellow gumshoe’ers!

  19. Geo
    Apr 10 2013, 10:09:39 am

    I really cannot comment on the business side of things, on the food side, well that is my business. Seriously, the food in the US is the most gawd awful excuse for calling people to eat. The head of the USDA is a politically appointed position and after the lap dog has finished they are instantly employed by the likes of ..well… lets say you have heard of the corporations……snert… ConAgra, Monsanto, Dupont…et al…
    If some of you are fortunate enough to taste real food….South America, parts of Europe, South East Asia,…….even though the slimes are making inroads there……..then you return to the US you know exactly what I mean. The US is a third world country when it comes to quality. Plain and simple. Remember US automobiles? Yea……everything in the US is going that way. Wonder why Appl is down?…….It is not coming back…sorry…….but frankly my Samsung, Myphone, etc. better quality, less money, and since I am not out to impress anybody, well you get the idea.
    If you can buy your food from a local organic (truly organic) heirloom seeds, natural soils, etc. Then you win. Me, I watch the health of the average american go into the toilet. Buy stocks that will provide for health care…that is where all the money is going to go….maybe except for wagging the tails of dogs war inc. Sorry for the rant. US was a good run. You been sold out.

  20. Doug
    Apr 10 2013, 12:24:10 pm

    Put your $$ on Wild Oats. I know the management and they are “hitters” with tons of site selection experience, all good, plus they are getting compensated to grow rapidly and run it like the own it, a formula that produced great results for them in the past. I drive 30 miles to get to a shopping area with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s … there’s a trend there somewhere.

  21. Kumar
    Apr 10 2013, 01:42:13 pm

    How long before Amazon moves into this space?
    Likely if their same day delivery thing clicks.
    Wonder if the existing organic B&M players esp. smaller ones like NGVC will be able to survive between such a predatory merchant and the Whole Foods gorilla.

  22. Bob
    Apr 10 2013, 01:47:22 pm

    GMOs: Poison, poison, poison. Did I mention it will kill ya? Run as fast as you can from any investment that is even remotely connected to GMOs (also called GE foods), and into the arms of anything that says no to GMO. Once the lawsuits start–Americans aren’t going to put up with crap like this latest Monsanto Protection Act–they will bring this house of cards down like the vulture it is. Love those mixed metaphors, especially when bearing down on reptilians, lol.

  23. 14 |
    john arguimbau
    Apr 10 2013, 05:42:38 pm

    I own 15000 shares of Geely Motors GELYF the Chinese Company that bought Volvo when Ford was throwing the babies out with the bathwater. My 1st buyin was on the rumor: 5000@$0.11 then 10.000 on the news @$ 0.19 and another 5000 for my wife @0.41 Thus we owned 20.000 shares @ $4500 or $0.225/share [call it $ 0.23 w/commission] Getting antsy about my shorting losses I Sold 5000 @ $ 0.60 last year. The stock is now around $0.45 and I have not a clue as to who is making what on a very good car. As a new irregular with the better brother in Vermont summers and raising cows in Sharon MA on Pa’s old farm,whorehouse and distillery [until F.D.R. spoiled the business in 1933 I’d love you even more as an Irregular Uncle John A. calargy@outlook.com

  24. william mccracken William McCracken
    Apr 11 2013, 04:57:05 pm

    I have been growing organic veggies and herbs with a daughter and son-in-law for 8 years. We are certified annually which requires stringent practices and record keeping and some money. If you want to guarantee that you are buying all organic, know your producer and visit his-her- theirs place of operation and buy direct. True organic and claimed organic are not always the same. Local and fresh includes more than organic producers. Grown organically doesn’t necessarily mean organic. I don’t know how any store can acquire enough truly organic produce to sell in quantity, without industrial farming production and long distance delivery. True fresh and organic can be had at farmers markets from certified producers, also from organic COOPS. After that I don’t bet on it.

  25. Thomas J. Bates
    May 13 2013, 03:05:51 pm

    This is a comment on stores, not stocks.
    I have been in Whole Foods multiple times but only bought there once, eating from the pound per item buffet for lunch with my daughter who likes Whole Foods. WAY OVERPRICED. But some people will overpay and so it seems to do well.
    I like Trader Joes and would have bought their stock years ago…if it had been publicly available–but it wasn’t. Some things are expensive but many reasonable–even Two Buck Chuck wine, now $3.49? is a great buy.
    QUESTION–what do you think about Fairway (recent IPO, I would have bought at IPO price if I 1) knew it and 2) could have gotten shares. I’ve known Fairway for 25 years since they had their first store on 73rd and Broadway in NYC. They are expanding fairly aggressively now and the new store’s I’ve seen seem to be doing pretty well. I would shop there and Trader Joe’s but not Whole Foods.

  26. Walt
    May 14 2013, 11:39:17 pm

    I spent 12 years in the natural foods industry, including four years owning my own store. I worked for Vitamin Cottage (Natural Grocers) at one point and I personally know, or knew, the Isleys, including the original founders. These people worked 16 hours a day for years to get where they are now, and I guarantee you there is no one in the business as knowledgable as they are. Their business model is simply brilliant and they know and have always known how to make money. They are NOT intimidated by anyone in the industry, be it Safeway, Whole Foods or whoever. Check out their recent financials here http://tinyurl.com/aklx3nz and note that the stock went up $4 to $29.50 May 9-10 on these results. One of their key strategies is extremely aggressive pricing. They know how to buy and they pass on the savings, and they know that this is a big advantage over Whole Foods and their customers have known this for years. I love WF as well, but NGVC are masters in the industry and will be the last ones standing. Most, if not all of their stores are clean, well stocked and very very busy. Ignore the negative comments you see above because those people don’t know what they’re talking about.

  27. JA Baram
    Jun 22 2013, 11:50:19 am

    There is another alternative to healthy shopping in the Southwest called Sprouts Farmers Market. It is a cross between Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and I shop there regularly now that 2 of them have opened within 10 miles of where I live. They have large organic selections and are less expensive than Whole Foods. There was talk of then going public— they are currently owned by Apollo Global Management, one of those Business Development Companies. They have 157 stores as of May 2013. Last year, I got my entire Thanksgiving dinner at Sprouts.

  28. Penny
    Jun 23 2013, 12:22:42 am

    I too can endorse Sprouts. The store I go to (Arvada CO) was formerly a Sunflower Market store until Sprouts bought out Sunflower. Like Sunflower, Sprouts has great deals on fresh fruit & veg, as well as a good range of organic and vegetarian items. I particularly use them to buy box-lots of produce for canning. They have a good bulk foods section; their meat prices are fair and the selection good. I’ve bought kangaroo meat there, if you’re interested.
    With this article you’ve whetted my interest in Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers, but I just can’t see them as the next Whole Foods. I’ll try them out though, and think deeply about VCNG stock.

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