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In this 2018 file photo, a sign promoting the Amazon Prime Now delivery service is displayed outside a Whole Foods store, in Cincinnati.
In this 2018 file photo, a sign promoting the Amazon Prime Now delivery service is displayed outside a Whole Foods store, in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo / AP)

As the online grocery wars heat up, Amazon announced Tuesday that it’s eliminating delivery fees for Amazon Prime members in Baltimore and elsewhere who order through Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market.

Amazon Fresh had charged $14.99 a month to deliver meat, seafood, produce, snacks and household goods. Amazon also said it now offers delivery in as little as one hour in most cities where the service is available.

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“Grocery delivery is one of the fastest growing businesses at Amazon, and we think this will be one of the most-loved Prime benefits," said Stephanie Landry, Amazon’s vice president of grocery delivery, in Tuesday’s announcement.

Amazon purchased Whole Foods in August 2017, giving it a store base for expanding online grocery shopping and delivery that has accelerated over the past few months. Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivery is now available in more than 2,000 cities and towns, with more locations being added, the online giant said.

Amazon launched its delivery service from Whole Foods in Baltimore in June 2018 for Prime members. The service also launched that month in Boston, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va.

Amazon said Tuesday that Prime members in “thousands” of cities and towns now can shop at Whole Foods through Amazon.com or the Amazon app.

Online sales account for just over 3 percent of the $700 billion grocery industry, some estimates show, but the category is growing. Some analysts and grocery store executives expect a breakout year for online grocery sales, which researchers say could reach about $30 billion nationally and nearly double in the next four years.

In the Baltimore area, retailers such as Aldi, Giant Food, Target, The Fresh Market, Wegmans, Weis Markets and others have launched or expanded online delivery or curbside pickup in the past year. Most charge a fee for delivery — either with annual membership or per delivery.

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