As of right now, Whole Foods is the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 this year. Its shares are down about 35% in 2014, worse than the 31% fall the similarly besieged electronics retailer Best Buy has suffered, and below a 3.8% gain for the broader index.
The longtime market leader in fresh and organic foods has been hit with an onslaught of competition from the likes of Sprout’s Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s and Kroger’s. Even Wal-Mart is getting into organic. Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Food’s current strategy to deal with all of this is to compete on price — which has concerned analysts who argue its customers are more interested in quality — as well as to expand into non-organic offerings.
Whether any of this works over time remains to be seen, but its certainly not impressing investors.