经济学人:全食超市 成功的受害者
日期:2014-08-05 16:17



Whole Foods Market
Victim of success
A peddler of pricey organic and natural foods finds it has competition
but it'll cost you
THE colourful chalkboards and baskets of fruit that greet customers at the entrances of Whole Foods Market's shops paint a rosy picture. Yet shares in the American seller of organic and natural food have fallen by more than 40% since hitting a peak last October, in a period when stockmarkets have been strong.
It is not that the retailer is in immediate crisis: its latest quarterly figures, on July 30th, showed sales and profits both up a bit. And it is not that people are going off the idea of paying more for food produced without chemical fertilisers, pesticides or additives: the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements reckons that the industry's worldwide revenues were a record of 63 billion in 2012; and Techsci Research, a market-research firm, predicts that the American market for such foods—the world's largest—may grow by 14% by 2018.
这并不是说零售商的危机迫在眉睫:7月30日,最新一季度的数据显示其销售收入和利润都有所回升。这并不是说人们不想花更多的钱来购买在生产过程中不施用化肥、杀虫剂和添加剂的食品,国际有机农业运动联合会估计,世界范围内此行业2012年年收入为630亿;据一家名为Techsci Research的市场调查公司预测,到2018年,此类食品的世界第一大市场——美国市场的增长也许会达到14%。

The problem is that at Whole Foods, shoppers have been paying way over the cost of regular produce, and its success in getting them to do so has now attracted a lot of competitors, from rival organics chains like Sprouts and Trader Joe's to mass-market retailers like Walmart and Costco. As a result, the price premium for organic produce is crashing down. On a recent shopping trip, a pound of organic apples cost 2.99 at Whole Foods but just 1.99 at Sprouts and even less at Costco.
问题是,在全食超市,消费者购买农产品的花费比其常规生产成本高很多,且如今全食超市的成功已经吸引来更多的竞争对手,从有机生产链竞争对手如Sprouts和Trader Joe's到大众市场零售商如沃尔玛、好事多。因此,有机农产品的溢价空间骤缩。近来在各大市场走一圈,一磅有机苹果在全食超市要2.99美元,而在Sprouts仅需1.99美元,在好事多超市价钱甚至更低。
The firm has been trimming costs to keep its margins up, but the slump in its share price reflects investors' expectation that this cannot continue, that profits will suffer and that Whole Foods' dominance of the market is coming to an end.
That the company has had to recall a number of products—in late July it and other grocers recalled plums and peaches suspected of contamination with Listeria bacteria—has made it harder to maintain an air of superiority over its competitors. Organic foods' claim to superiority is questionable anyway. Both Britain's Food Standards Agency and the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal, concluded after reviewing the extensive studies on the issue that there is no substantial difference in the nutritiousness of organics and non-organics. In some respects organics may be bad for the environment, because growing them uses land less efficiently than non-organics.
As for “natural” foods, there is no official definition of this, inAmericaat least; so the label, which Whole Foods also applies to many products, is close to meaningless. Alan McHughen, a botanist at theUniversityofCalifornia,Riverside, argues that the whole industry is “99% marketing and public perception,” reeling people in through a fabricated concept of a time when food, and life in general, was simple and wholesome.
对于“天然”食品,没有官方定义,至少在美国没有;因此全食公司在其许多产品上贴上此类标签,近乎毫无意义。加州大学河畔分校的植物学家Alan McHughen认为,整个行业就是99%的市场营销和公众看法,这些把人们卷入一个被捏造的观念中:这个时代,食物和日常生活就是简单与健康。
If true, the trick has worked nicely for Whole Foods. But its success has attracted so many imitators that it is losing its uniqueness. Even recent speculation about a takeover bid has failed to lift its shares. It may insist its food is sustainable. But it seems its prices are not.

1.pay for 赔偿;为…而付钱

We will not pay for your crisis.

All this may be the price we pay for progress.

2.come to v. 想起;共计

Please stop in when you come to Liverpool.

Come to see me,do!

3.at least 至少

At least it should be.

At least, not yet.

  • immediateadj. 立即的,即刻的,直接的,最接近的
  • efficientlyadv. 有效地
  • substantialadj. 实质的,可观的,大量的,坚固的 n. 重要部份
  • contaminationn. 污染,污染物
  • conceptn. 概念,观念
  • internaladj. 国内的,内在的,身体内部的
  • questionableadj. 可疑的,可置疑的
  • issuen. 发行物,期刊号,争论点 vi. & vt 发行,流
  • definitionn. 定义,阐释,清晰度
  • wholesomeadj. 有益健康的,合乎卫生的,健全的