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Amazon starts cutting Whole Foods prices for Prime members

The grocery chain's new loyalty program offers rotating weekly specials and more.

Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that

Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that offers special discounts to Amazon Prime customers in Florida Wednesday. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Amazon and Whole Foods Market are making a surgical strike in the already brutal grocery price war.

On Wednesday, Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that offers special discounts to Prime customers, including 10 percent off hundreds of sale items and rotating weekly specials such as $10 per pound off wild-caught halibut steaks.

Those perks are available now in Florida and will roll out to all other stores starting this summer. Whole Foods is not yet releasing the precise timing for the program's arrival at its 13 stores in New York City, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Amazon previously announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for members of Prime, its subscription club with fast shipping and video streaming. 

The world's biggest internet retailers acquired the upscale supermarket chain last year for $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods co-founder and Chief Executive John Mackey said he's betting on new loyalty strategy as a way of convincing shoppers wary of its "Whole Paycheck" reputation that it is an affordable option for more of their purchases.

The new perks could make Whole Foods cheaper than conventional grocers for about 8 million of its customers who already subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

Prime members scan an app or input their phone numbers at checkout to receive the discounts.

Still, Philadelphia-area Whole Foods shopper and Prime member Heather Kincade, 46, is going to need convincing.

While Whole Foods' prices on staples like rotisserie chicken, bananas and avocados have come down, she still thinks some every day items are prohibitively expensive. "If I start buying dish soap and other things there, I will have hit the big time," she said.

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