The Great North American Supermarket Shootout

NEW YORK — Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Markets, the top two natural food supermarkets in the U.S., are planning significant expansion and marketing campaigns to tap into the potentially lucrative natural and organic categories in Canada.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, which will unveil its first Canadian supermarket in Toronto this fall, intends to open as many as 10 stores across Canada over the next few years. Boulder, Col.-based Wild Oats, which currently operates four markets in British Columbia under the Capers banner, is seeking new locations in Toronto and Calgary.

Meanwhile, Loblaw, Canada’s No. 1 supermarket retailer, plans to expand its private label President’s Choice Organics from 25 products to 200 offerings by the end of 2001. Loblaw also has incorporated its Natural Foods store-within-a-store section into all-new store plans for the coming years.

Number two Canadian chain Sobeys has committed to expanding its natural/organic sections as well, as have U.S. based chains Safeway and A&P, which both have divisions operating in Canada.