Jeff Bezos is a beef stakeholder. The founder of Amazon with a net worth of $87 billion—give or take a billion—has a vested interest in how your cattle are raised.
This summer Amazon announced it intends to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, news that sent a shudder through the grocery business. Already operating on razor-thin margins, grocery retailers are now facing even more competition in a sector that generates about $1 trillion in annual sales. Amazon’s
acquisition of Whole Foods is seen as a direct challenge to Wal-Mart’s supremacy, and the 20-year-old Internet sensation is now the fourth most valuable public company in the world and the eighth-largest employer in the U.S.
For consumers, analysts believe the entry of Amazon into the food business will mean more food choices, faster home deliveries of groceries and lower prices.
Yet, Amazon was making its presence felt in the beef industry even before the Whole Foods announcement. Amazon Technologies has filed at least 110 trademarks related to food, with the focus primarily on pre-made meals. Ten of those trademarks are related to the phrase “single cow burger.”
Amazon already sells Wagyu beef burgers made from grass-fed cattle raised in California. The company promotes the product as made from a single cow, unlike most burgers which are made from the trimmings of multiple animals.
“How many cows does it take to make one burger? Thanks to Amazon, just one,” the company touts in it’s promotions. “Our high-quality patties are made from one source and are available exclusively on AmazonFresh.”
And now, thanks to Amazon, a seed has been planted among consumers that burgers made from multiple sources are somehow tainted. There is no evidence that burgers from a single source are safer, tastier or greener for the planet, but you can bet Amazon will not attempt to correct consumers who draw that conclusion.
Amazon’s foray into the food business is another giant step by a savvy company led by a savvy businessman. The company will soon be selling enough beef and other proteins that it will hold incredible leverage on our industry, the kind of leverage that will force changes to many production systems. Ready or not, Amazon beef is on the horizon.
High quality and product safety will be guaranteed from those who will supply beef to Amazon in the future. So will humane animal treatment standards, and probably mandatory animal identification to trace products back to the farm of origin. Other Amazon demands could involve environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Amazon, and other food marketers, are implementing strategies to provide their customers what they want—affordable, quality food products delivered quickly. In other words, Amazon will soon be your customer. Are you ready?
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