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With a drought gripping much of the nation and higher food costs predicted by economists, Wegmans Food Markets is once more introducing a price freeze on more than 60 products families buy most during the autumn, with total SKUs, if all flavors and varieties are counted, numbering more than 300. The initiative begins Aug. 26, and runs through Dec. 31. Even if costs go up for these products, the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer vows not to raise their retail prices during the freeze.
“It appeared early in the year that food costs would stabilize, but then the drought [happened],” noted President Colleen Wegman. “There’s so much uncertainty. Planning and budgeting are crucial for families, and it’s made easier when they can count on prices for an extended period of time. What you save at the grocery store should more than offset what you pay at the pump.”
Wegmans’ roster of price-frozen items includes products that help families prepare lunches and get dinner on the table once school is back in session. “When we put this list together, we took into consideration the importance of family meals,” said Wegman.
“Family meals encourage better eating habits for children who would otherwise graze,” added Jane Andrews, the chain’s corporate nutritionist. “A meal typically includes a greater variety of foods, and sitting together gives Mom and Dad the chance to model healthful portions and have plenty of conversation.”
Included in the price freeze are fresh produce items (15 in all), chicken, tilapia, frozen vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, whole grain breads, Greek yogurt, pasta and pasta sauce. Among the prices are a whole roasting chicken for 99 cents a pound, 5 pounds of white potatoes for $1.99, 32 ounes of Wegmans Frozen Tilapia for $4.99 a pound, 12- to 16-ounce packages of Wegmans Frozen Vegetables for 99 cents, 28- to 29-ounce Wegmans Canned Tomatoes for 79 cents, and 15- to 24-ounce jars of Wegmans Italian Classics Pasta Sauce for $1.99.
Shoppers can additionally find nonfoods items such as staples as toothpaste, shampoo, paper towels and bath tissue on the list. Most of the products are Wegmans brand, because, as the company explained, it can be more aggressive with pricing for its own items. The complete list with prices is available online.
“I want our customers to know that we are committed to consistent low prices,” said Wegman. “Beyond this list, we can’t freeze every price, but we make sure our prices on the products families put in their shopping carts every week are 10 percent to 15 percent lower than other supermarkets.”
Family-owned Wegmans operates 80 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts, with a new location slated to open in Crofton, Md., at the end of October.