Safeway vs Whole Foods | Which One Cheaper & Better For You?

Safeway and Whole Foods are two of the most well known supermarket chains in the world. Both sell millions of products each year and are dominant brands in their own right. However, if you are deciding between the two, which one is better suited for your shopping habits. 


To help you get to the bottom of this question, I looked into 3 main factors for each of the stores. These 3 factors are:


  1. Price
  2. Product Quality
  3. Product Variety


After reading through this article, you should have a better idea about the differences between these two stores, which should help you decide which one is right for you.


Which is Better: Whole Foods or Safeway? In terms of price, Safeway is much cheaper than Whole Foods. More specifically, Safeway is anywhere from 9% to 64% cheaper than Whole Foods in most shopping categories. However, Whole Foods does offer much better product quality. 

Is Whole Foods More Expensive Than Safeway?

A big decision making factor that most shoppers consider is price. Generally speaking, customers prefer the store that is the most affordable, or the one that offers the most ‘bang for your buck’.


So, I compared store brand items from each store that are in the most common shopping categories. By looking at the store brand, I was able to level the playing field as it gives the most accurate depiction of what the store’s average prices are.


Category Whole Foods Brand Safeway Brand
Baking Goods
Canned Goods
Dry Goods
Frozen Foods
Personal Care


So, which one is cheaper? Safeway is cheaper across a majority of shopping categories in comparison to Whole Foods. In other words, Whole Foods’s products are more expensive than Safeway’s products.


It’s no real surprise that Whole Foods is more expensive on average than Safeway. A vast majority of Whole Foods’s products are organic which are more expensive by nature.


To be more specific, Whole Foods was only cheaper in 2 categories– Frozen Foods and Cleaners. It should be mentioned that even in these categories, they were barely cheaper than Safeway.


So, if you are a shopper that values price, it seems that Safeway is the right choice for you to go with. 


Product Quality: Whole Foods vs Safeway

Another big factor that I looked at when comparing these two stores was product quality. Which one of these stores has higher quality products? I decided to look at the FDA’s recall database


This would show how many recalled items each store has had in recent times, showing which store has consistently higher quality products.


Category Whole Foods Recalls Safeway Recalls
Animal & Veterinary 0 0
Biologics 0 0
Cosmetics 0 0
Dietary Supplements 0 0
Drugs 0 0
Food and Beverages 2 11
Medical Devices 0 0
Radiation Emitting Products 0 0
Tobacco 0 0


So, according to the FDA, Whole Foods has had less recalled items in recent times when compared to Safeway. Both stores only had recalled items within the ‘Food and Beverages’ category.


Whole Foods: 2 Total Recalls

Safeway: 11 Total Recalls


More specifically, Whole Foods has had only 2 recalls in recent times, whereas Safeway has had 11 total recalls. While Safeway’s numbers are low in comparison to other supermarket chains, Whole Foods wins by a landslide.


So, if you are someone who prioritizes Product quality, you should look towards Whole Foods.


Product Variety: Whole Foods vs Safeway

Many shoppers love having many options to pick from in terms of products they are shopping for. Out of both supermarkets, which one has the most product variety. In other words, which one has more options to choose from?


Total Whole Foods Products Total Safeway Products
30,000 Products 33,000+ Products


Both stores sell a very similar amount of products in each of their stores. While it was a bit difficult to find out the exact number of products that Whole Foods sells, the 30,000 is a rough estimate based on its size compared to other similar grocery stores.


So for the shoppers that like to have a lot of product variety, you will find a very similar amount of products at each store.


Which One Should You Shop At: Whole Foods vs Safeway?


When to shop at Whole Foods: The one big advantage that Whole Foods has over Safeway is that their product quality is top notch. They had a very minimal amount of product recalls which indicates that their products are among the highest quality. 


Additionally, they predominantly sell organic items, so if that is something more suited to your lifestyle, then Whole Foods is where you should shop.


When to shop at Safeway: Safeway’s main advantage is its pricing. It beat Whole Foods in a majority of categories. Not to mention that even in the categories where it was considered the more expensive option, it was only more expensive by $0.20 at most.


So, if you are someone who prioritizes savings, Safeway is your best choice in this comparison.