In a photo made Monday Aug. 27, 2012, Boise Co-op general manager Ben Kuzma, left, speaks with flooring contractor Emilio Bengoa, right, in Boise, Idaho, about plans to redo the floors at the 39-year-old organic and natural grocer in Idaho's capital city. Remodeling is one of the ways that the co-op is gearing up for competition from Whole Foods Market, which opens its first Boise store in October. (AP Photo/John Miller)
BOISE, Idaho - The Boise Co-op eliminated thousands of slow-selling items. The Wheatsvile Food Co-op in Texas is opening its second store after 40 years. And the Davis Food Co-op in California is turning to a store designer.
It's no coincidence food co-operatives across the U.S. are making big changes. Many are preparing for the arrival of a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, two organic- and specialty-food industry giants that are opening new stores nationwide.
Some co-ops are even dispatching camera-toting, intelligence-gathering crews to poach ideas from the big guys.
With demand for organic, natural and specialty food continuing to outpace other grocery-industry segments, co-ops say they must improve their stores, identify trends and appeal to a changing audience as the competition moves in.