Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whole Foods improves gluten-free tag system

Since we buy most of our gluten-free items at Natural Foods Warehouse, we rarely go to Whole Foods anymore. However, there are a few things that I have to buy at Whole Foods. Most of them are available at Return to Eden, but that store is not on my beaten path anymore. 

Below are a few things I noticed during our last visit to Whole Foods:
  • The gluten-free labeled kettle corn I found up in TN is now sold at Whole Foods. Since I had auxiliary stock of the snack at home, I didn't catch the price.
  • The only FRESH gluten-free pasta I've ever found in the ATL is a life changing product. It's stocked at the Duluth store near the shredded cheese - kind of behind the olive bar. Read the label carefully as only two of the pastas from RP's Pasta are gluten-free.
  • Both the regular and spicy versions of Peachtree Pimento spreads from Agra-Frutti are sold at WF and both are fabulous! (and I don't even like spicy food)   
  • The gluten-free pretzel's from Snyder's are giving Glutino a run for their money. I like to use the braided type of pretzels for my Chex mix so I'll stick with Glutino for that. However, for a pretzel stick with a buttery flavor, Snyder's offering can't be beat. Here is a review of the snack that debuted back in May. 
Whole Foods has greatly improved their gluten-free shelf tag system. It's by no means perfect, but they are trying to do better. In the past I've been able to locate tons of gluten-free labeled items that did not sport the gluten-free shelf tag. On our last visit there, only a few things were not tagged. We were not in the store long so I didn't inspect every section, but I noticed how many more gluten-free tags they had up in the areas I looked around at. In most cases, the tags were not put up not because the items were new to the store. Kudos to Whole Foods for trying to improve the shopping experience of those that like shopping there and need gluten-free wares. Now if they could only do something about those high prices....

While it's true that no shelf tag system is perfect (customers might knock tags off the shelf when reaching for something even in the best tagged stores), Whole Foods has definitely been the worst in the area about not tagging their gluten-free items for quite a while. In fact, the first batch of tags they ordered didn't work so they had to scrap those and start over, making the stores in this area the last to have such tags. I've not changed my mind about Whole Foods and still think they are "too big for their britches" and don't think anyone at their headquarters understands what the term "customer service" means, but I do want to give them their due when they try and improve something that matters to people in our market. Anyone who enjoys shopping at the store should have an easier time of it. At least, they should in the Atlanta area.


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