Whole Foods to invest in Instacart: report

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Whole Foods Markets Inc. is poised to invest in Instacart, its delivery partner, a published report says.

The grocery chain known for its natural and organic products also has agreed to a five-year deal making Instacart the only delivery company for Whole Foods’ perishables business, tech website Re/Code reported Tuesday.

The size of the investment in Instacart wasn’t known. Neither Whole Foods nor Instacart would comment.

Instacart began on-demand delivery of Whole Foods products in Chicago in September 2014. The San Francisco-based company also delivers in Chicago for other chains such as Jewel-Osco, Stanley’s, Costco and Mariano’s.

Earlier this month, Whole Foods forecast sales at stores open at least a year to be flat to down 2 percent for the year.

Whole Foods has been under pressure as organic foods and products marketed as natural have become increasingly mainstream, with big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart devoting more space to such items. Sales fell at 1.8 percent at established locations for the three months ending Jan. 17, the company said.

Whole Foods, which has more than 430 locations in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, says it still sees potential for 1,200 locations in just the U.S. A newer branch of “365″ stores it is opening that focuses more heavily on value can expand on that footprint, the company says.

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