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    Whole Foods Survey Claims Quality Trumps Price for Most Shoppers

    The super-natural chain also said a market basket study showed it came in lower on prices for staples than Albertson's, Wegmans, and Kroger in some markets.

    Rising prices or not, most consumers say they won't compromise on the quality of the food they buy, claimed Whole Foods yesterday, summarizing results of a recent survey it released in an apparent attempt to gain exposure for its stance as a purveyor of "value offerings" as opposed to low-priced goods.

    Whole Foods also said its survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, showed that the majority (70 percent) of consumers are still buying the same amount of natural and/or organic foods, regardless of price. The survey found that 67 percent prefer to buy natural and/or organic foods over conventional foods if prices are comparable, the super-natural market leader said.

    "It is reassuring to see these results as they confirm we're on the right track in highlighting our value offerings for our customers," said A.C. Gallo, co-president and coo for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Markets.

    Whole Foods said the survey results were similar across geographic locations, despite the varying regional impact of the housing slump and economic downturn.

    The survey also found many adults are now preparing more meals at home (43 percent), using more coupons (40 percent), or going out of their way to look for lower-cost items (37 percent) as a result of higher food costs.

    The grocer said it also completed a market basket survey the week of Aug. 18 that found Whole Foods Market had "the lowest total price for common pantry items when compared to Albertson's, Wegmans, King Soopers and Kroger in Nevada, Maryland, Colorado and California."

    Whole Foods compared non-sale prices for items such as milk, eggs, lettuce, peanut butter, tuna, shells and cheddar and frozen fruit. The average total price for the Whole Foods market basket was $47.04, compared to an average of $55.97 for competitors, it said.

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