AmazonFresh Sprouts in Twin Cities
(Photo courtesy of Amazon)

AmazonFresh Sprouts in Twin Cities

Metro grocery wars keep intensifying

The AmazonFresh grocery delivery service from Seattle-based e-commerce giant Inc. is now available in the Twin Cities market. On Thursday Amazon announced that it’s adding the service in three new markets: Minneapolis, Houston and Phoenix.

AmazonFresh offers one- and two-hour delivery options for Prime members to “shop tens of thousands of products from meat and seafood to fresh produce and everyday essentials,” according to the company’s statement.

Amazon acquired brick-and-mortar grocer Whole Foods in 2017. Whole Foods has seven metro locations: two in Minneapolis and one each in St. Paul, Edina, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, and Woodbury. Other grocers such as Cub Foods, Lunds & Byerlys, Kowalski’s Markets, HyVee, and Aldi all have more Twin Cities locations. (A new Aldi store opens today at 2601 Lyndale Avenue South in south Minneapolis.)

Everyone is in the grocery business today. Groceries account for 20 percent of sales for Minneapolis-based retailer Target Corp. For the company’s 2018 fiscal year, food and beverage sales totaled $14.6 billion. Whole Foods’ last annual filing before the Amazon acquisition showed sales of $16 billion.

Amazon first began testing grocery delivery service in Seattle in 2007, long before it acquired Whole Foods. But the rollout of the concept has unfolded more slowly than expected. After the Whole Foods deal closed, Amazon discontinued AmazonFresh in several states. Thursday’s announcement suggested that the company is rededicating some attention to AmazonFresh.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that AmazonFresh is now available in 18 cities total, including the three added Thursdsay.

Amazon Fresh costs $14.99 per month as an “add-on” to a customer’s Prime membership.

Amazon Prime membership currently costs $119 for a yearly plan of $12.99 per month for monthly members. Amazon boosted prices in 2018.

Amazon brought Prime Now delivery to the Twin Cities in October 2015.

Amazon Restaurants, a Bite Squad-like service delivering food from restaurants launched locally in August 2016. The latter effort was a failure: Amazon pulled the plug on Amazon Restaurants nationally in June.

Twin Cities Business has previously reported on Amazon’s fast and expansive growth in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the last few years, with distribution and delivery facilities and a tech development office in the North Loop area of downtown Minneapolis.

When Amazon was gearing up to land in the Twin Cities, it had no comment about whether AmazonFresh would be launched in the metro.