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Amazon unveils grocery delivery at Whole Foods

The Associated Press Amazon is bringing its speedy delivery to Whole Foods. The online retail giant plans to roll out two-hour delivery at the supermarket chain this year to those who pay for Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime membership. It is the company’s biggest move since it bought the organic grocer last year.

It’s also precisely the action rivals have been preparing for since the day Amazon — with the Prime program that’s been so successful in cementing customer loyalty — announced plans to buy Whole Foods.

Amazon shoppers can order meat, seafood and other Whole Foods grocery items through the Prime Now app and website. Deliveries started Thursday in Austin, Texas; Cincinnati; Dallas; and Virginia Beach, Va.; and will expand nationwide this year.

While convenient, not everyone wants other people picking out their eggs or fruit. A major hurdle for companies that offer grocery delivery is getting those people to sign up, said Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst at NPD Group.

“There are always going to be people who want their bananas a little green,” he said.

About 7 percent of U.S. households bought groceries online last year, according to NPD Group. Most of those — about three-quarters — get their orders delivered to their door; the rest pick it up at the store. NPD Group said it expects online grocery shopping to grow quickly, especially among young adults.

And grocery chains don’t want to miss out when that happens.

Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, is making it easier for customers to order groceries online and pick them up at the store. Target bought grocery-delivery company Shipt late last year. Kroger, the largest traditional supermarket chain, has been promoting store pickup for online orders and doing trials of home delivery.

For Amazon, items will be pulled from Whole Foods stores, bagged and then delivered by Amazon drivers. Amazon said there’s no extra fee for two-hour deliveries above $35, but one-hour delivery will cost $8. Speech

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