Listen To The Story

If you wanted to buy organic quinoa or grass-fed beef, Whole Foods used to be the place to go. Now, other stores sell those products too — your regular supermarket, Trader Joe’s, even Wal-Mart.

“These new entrants are stealing the idea, and they're doing it at a lower price,” said Peter Cohan, who teaches strategy at Babson College in Massachusetts.

With sales falling, Whole Foods is facing pressure from a few key investors to turn itself around.

The company named a new chairwoman yesterday, and it’s replacing five of its board members. The new members include former executives at Foot Locker, Best Buy and the restaurant chain Panera. 

The company is hoping that’ll fend off more aggressive actions by activist investors, Cohan said.

What can the new board do to change things? Board members generally do big-picture, strategic thinking, said Nicholas Pearce, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “So this could be repositioning the brand,” Pearce said. “It could be re-envisioning how Whole Foods thinks of itself.”

Whether that will satisfy investors is another story.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Marielle Segarra at @mariellesegarra