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Amazon Is Still Trying to Digest Whole Foods

Whole Foods founder John Mackey is retiring five years after the deal amid major questions about its logic.
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Photo illustration: 731; Photos: Getty Images

The day in 2017 that Inc. announced it would buy Whole Foods Market, Jeff Wilke, then Amazon’s retail czar, tried to reassure a large group of employees gathered in a conference room above the high-end grocer’s flagship store in Austin that their lives wouldn’t be turned upside down by the deal. Then he referred to blueberries as a vegetable.

Executives from Whole Foods pounced. “Those aren’t vegetables,” cut in co-founder John Mackey. “So it begins,” added Walter Robb, Mackey’s former co-chief executive officer, before Mackey offered Wilke an out: “We’re learning,” he said.