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Amazon shakes up the grocery business with its $13.7-billion deal to buy Whole Foods

Amazon shakes up the grocery business with its $13.7-billion deal to buy Whole Foods

Amazon revolutionized the sale of books, electronics and other products. Now the online shopping giant is threatening to transform how people buy their food.

Amazon.com Inc. dropped a bombshell Friday on the U.S. grocery industry by agreeing to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion, including net debt. The 465-store chain, which helped pioneer the large-scale selling of natural and organic groceries, often at a premium price, might seem like a niche player in the $611-billion U.S. grocery world.

But the potential ripple effects of Amazon’s largest purchase ever immediately rattled the industry, sending stocks of supermarket companies tumbling. That’s because...

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