Whole Foods vs Central Market | Which One Is Cheaper & Better For You?

Whole Foods and Central Market are two very popular grocery stores in the United States. Both have a big focus on organic and natural foods. Throughout the years, they have both made a large name for themselves, garnering millions of loyal customers. But which one is better?


In this article, I compared Whole Foods and Central Market to see which one is better for you. I compared them based on:


  • Price
  • Quality
  • Variety


After reading this article, you should have a good idea as to which store is better for you.


Which is Better: Central Market or Whole Foods? Whole Foods is 2% to 330% cheaper than Central Market for a majority of common shopping categories. Additionally, they have more product variety. Not to mention Whole Foods has less product recalls than Central Market, according to the FDA.

Is Central Market More Expensive Than Whole Foods?

Price is one of the biggest factors when it comes to deciding which store a customer wants to shop at. Most customers will shop at the store that offers the cheapest products or the best bang for your buck deals. So when comparing Central Market at Whole Foods, which one is cheaper?


For this comparison, I looked at each store’s store brand items across 8 common shopping categories. This allows for a level playing field when comparing prices on common shopping items.


Category Central Market Brand Whole Foods Brand
Baking Goods
Canned Goods
Dry Goods
Frozen Foods
Personal Care


After taking a look at the store brand items, it appears as though Whole Foods slightly beats Central Market in terms of price. In other words, Whole Foods is cheaper than Central Market. More specifically, Whole Foods is cheaper in the bread, canned goods, and Dry Goods categories. In those categories, Whole Foods is anywhere from 2% to 330% cheaper than Central Market.


It should be noted that Central Market is cheaper in the Beverages and dairy category. These two categories are anywhere from 5% to 27% cheaper compared to the same categories at Whole Foods.


So, if you are a shopper that enjoys saving money, you are better off shopping at Whole Foods for a majority of the products you need.

Product Quality: Central Market vs Whole Foods

Just as price is an important factor in deciding on which store is better, product quality is equally as important. While one might have cheaper items, which one has better product quality? To get an idea of which store has higher quality products, I took a look at the FDA’s product recall database.


The store with more product recalls is less likely to have high quality products. So, when comparing Central Market and Whole Foods, which one has higher quality products.


Category Central Market Recalls Whole Foods Recalls
Animal & Veterinary 0 0
Biologics 0 0
Cosmetics 0 0
Dietary Supplements 0 0
Drugs 0 0
Food and Beverages 5 2
Medical Devices 0 0
Radiation Emitting Products 0 0
Tobacco 0 0


After looking through the FDA’s database, it seems as though Whole Foods has less product recalls than Central Market. This means that Whole Foods is likely to have higher quality products.


Central Market Recalls: 5

Whole Foods Recalls: 2


It should be noted that while Whole Foods does have less product recalls, both stores have a remarkably low amount of recalls in comparison to other grocery stores. Even Central Market, who has more product recalls at Whole Foods still beats a majority of grocery stores in industry.


So, if you are someone who enjoys product quality and prioritizes it when you shop, then Whole Foods is the better option for you.

Product Variety: Central Market vs Whole Foods

The third factor of this comparison is on product variety. Product variety is essentially how many options a store has for their customers to buy. The more product variety a store has, the more options they have to pick from.


While it may not be as important of a factor as price or quality, it still plays an intricate role in the decision-making process. When looking at these two stores, which one offers customers more options to pick from?


It is also important to note that both of these stores are considered grocery stores, which means they should carry the same types and amount of items. However, this does not seem like the case here.


Total Central Market Products Total Whole Foods Products
15,000 products 30,000 products


Whole Foods clearly has more product variety than Central Market. More specifically Whole Foods has 2 times the amount of products to pick from. This means that if you are shopping at Whole Foods you are more likely to find everything you need in comparison to Central Market.


To give a little bit of perspective, the average grocery store carries around 31,000 products. This means that Central Market is way below the average. Although it is likely that you will find most of the things you need at Central Market, you will easily be able to find more at Whole Foods. 


So, if you are someone who enjoys having many products to choose from when shopping, then Whole Foods is a clear winner.

Which One Should You Shop At: Central Market vs Whole Foods?


When to shop at Central Market: Central Market was beat on all 3 comparison factors. It doesn’t seem like there is any situation that Whole Foods does not win. While Central Market is not a bad store to shop at, Whole Foods is clearly a better choice. 


When to shop at Whole Foods: Whole Foods dominated these 3 factors of price, quality, and product variety. There’s almost no instance where Central Market beats Whole Foods. All around, Whole Foods is a much better option than Central Market.


Final Thoughts: Whole Foods vs Central Market

After doing this analysis, Whole Foods seems like the unstoppable winner, which they kind of are. But what should also be said is that Central Market is a very good store. They still offer very good quality products at a decent price. It just so happens that it’s not as good as Whole Foods.


So that means if Central Market is your only option, you are in very good hands. You will still get good products at fair prices.