We now find out that Amazon has bought ‘Whole Foods’. This may be important for them in America but in the UK ‘Whole Foods’ has made consistent losses and have a share of the food market that is so small as to be imperceptible.
It is therefore a source of some surprise that the board of NISA, the independent grocers’ buying group, cite this as a the reason that they might be willing to be bought by Sainsbury and thus happy to lose their independence!
Much more likely is that they are fearful that Tesco (the UK’s largest food retailer as well as the largest internet grocer in the world) and Booker (the UK’s largest food wholesaler) will get the go ahead for a merger.
If they do it will be a scandal.
There is no benefit to the public at all. There is little synergy between food wholesaling and retailing and there is a clear conflict of interest. The only synergy that would result is an ability to screw the suppliers as Tesco/Booker would be easily the biggest UK grocery ‘route to market’ as the jargon goes.
In fact a Tesco/Booker or Sainsbury/NISA merger would reduce the diversity of the market so significantly that it is surely something that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) cannot fail to understand?
If Amazon is such a threat the CMA could prevent the purchase of any other UK food trader. Otherwise Amazon does as it is wont to do – just spend money and wait. There might be scope for an eventual change of mind on Amazon Food, but so far, in the UK, Amazon Food have been extraordinarily quiet about progress.
I think we can take that as a sure sign that food is not books.