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Whole Foods Market in Madison , Wisconsin (Courtesy: Whole Foods Market)
May 17, 2015

Whole Foods Market, a leading organic and natural grocery chain, announced it plans to open a new chain of stores with lower prices.

The leading organic and natural grocery chain with supermarkets in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, faced with fresh competition and slowing sales growth, plans to court the highly prized millennials and their foodie tastes with smaller, value-focused stores starting in 2016.

But the plan, unveiled late Wednesday, left shoppers and industry watchers hungering for more details. The Austin, Texas-based retailer has not said where the stores will be or what they will be called, but says it is already negotiating leases and building a team solely focused on the new concept.

Co-CEO John Mackey said in a conference call that the stores would be “unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace” by offering Whole Foods’ “quality standards at value prices.”

The effort follows stepped up competition from others cashing in on consumer demands for organic and natural food. Kroger’s Simple Truth line already hit $1.2 billion in sales in fiscal 2014 and continues to grow at a double-digit clip. And discounter Target has said it will expand its lineup of natural, organic and locally grown products in the reinvented food sections it plans to unveil in 2016.

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