Written by Tom Tobin, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Wegmans Food Markets has discontinued its seasonal consumer price-freeze list, saying the economy has improved enough to do so.
The freeze on staple food prices began in 2011 in response to what Wegmans saw as a difficult situation for shoppers - higher food prices amid joblessness and a weak overall economy in the United States
The list was renewed at quarterly intervals each year thereafter and was changed to accommodate seasonal shopping needs. The summer list took effect in April and expired Aug. 24.
Wegmans announced the change in an online column by senior vice president for consumer affairs Mary Ellen Burris.
"We announced a Seasonal Price Freeze List when the country was slipping into deep recession; it proved reassuring to consumer to needed some predictability in their lives," Burris wrote. "Now there is some improvement in the economy, although not to the extent we'd all like. We've decided to eliminate the seasonal list with an end date and focus on our basic philosophy of consistent prices all the time on items families use most in our new Seasonal Family Favorites list."
The Family Favorites list has many of the items on the seasonal list and is focused on staple items. There is no guarantee of a price freeze.
"We work hard to keep our prices low and felt it was important to communicate that we have consistent low prices that shoppers can count on every day versus a seasonal list," company president Colleen Wegman said in a statement Tuesday.
In announcing the price-freeze list in 2011, Wegmans pledged to shoppers that it would not raise prices for them even if costs for the company escalated. That happened many times in the years since, especially in the fruit, produce and meat categories.
The discontinued price-freeze list contained 67 items, including meat, seafood, grocery, dairy, bakery, frozen foods and deli products. There were 14 seasonal produce items, including grape tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lemons, limes and organic salad greens.
A spot check Tuesday of items on the summer list showed no price change for most of them, although items such as Russet potatoes and marinated chicken breasts were more expensive.
Wegmans will continue to offer free prescriptions for atorvastatin (up to a 90-day supply) through the end of 2013. Atorvastatin is a drug used to counter high cholesterol.
All of the items on the list were Wegmans brand products.