Amazon, in a bid to dominate the retail food industry, has slashed prices by up to 43 percent across its recently acquired Whole Foods grocery stores.

This marks a drastic change for the premium grocery retailer, which previously was jokingly referred to as “Whole Paycheck” instead of Whole Foods for its absurdly high prices.

The company has surely seen abundant coverage on the price cuts luring more consumers to its grocery stores since the lower prices went into effect on August 28, but perhaps the reduced prices are not all they are cracked up to be.

Granted, a 43 percent price reduction is definitely worth noting, but it pales in comparison to the opportunity to get your groceries for free.

PantryPerks, groceries, technology, Whole Foods

Rishi Padhi, CEO of PantryPerks

No, this is not a pipe dream. In fact, it is a real business plan, dreamed up by two students from Northwestern University (Rishi Padhi, CEO) and University of Michigan who have developed PantryPerks — an online grocery retailer based in Sunnyvale, California that sells the same natural, organic, and specialty brands you would find stocking the aisles of Whole Foods.

Same products, but for free? Yep.

The fundamental principle that enables this service to work is the company’s proprietary “multi-level social commerce” business model (patent pending).

The company runs on a referral program where existing members fill the ranks below them, and earn money based on the actions of their networks. But unlike other multi-level marketing (MLM) business models that may come to mind, PantryPerks insists that it is not an MLM company for various reasons:

  1. Members are not compensated directly for expanding their network. In fact, the company discourages the spamming of invitations as a measure force users to choose carefully who they would like to invite.
  2. Consumers do not need to purchase food to resell. Rather, those who sign up can purchase food directly from the website for themselves and their families without ever needing to go through another PantryPerks member.
  3. PantryPerks does not sell private label goods. In fact, all of the inventory on the website is from a number of other premium brands (many of which are also found in Whole Foods) that are unaffiliated with the company.
PantryPerks, groceries, technology, Whole Foods

Screenshot from pantryperks.com.

Here is how it works. As an affiliate, you receive seven percent cash-back for each purchase you make. Each time one of your friends makes a purchase, you receive six percent. And each time one of their friends makes a purchase, you get five percent. Then, at the end of the month, you receive all of your cash-back and earnings, which you can put toward next month’s groceries or that trip to Italy you previously thought you could never afford.

The only catch is that you must spend a minimum of $60 dollars on the site per month. This, however, is not too difficult given that the United States Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) estimates a moderate-cost monthly food plan of about $250 for a single individual and about $1,000 for a family of four.

By challenging the traditional supply chain economics that have defined the retail food industry, PantryPerks attempts to increase access to healthy products, and create savings by redistributing traditional product margins back to the consumers themselves.

In doing so, the company is actively living out the first two parts of its overarching mission: promoting well being and financial freedom. The third part of the company’s mission is charity, which it fulfills by donating one percent of each transaction value to a charity of your choice upon checkout.

It is an admirable mission, and one that aligns perfectly with the company mantra: Live Well. Stay Passionate. Spread Goodness. These are the three core tenets of PantryPerks’ business, which, they believe, should not cost you a “Whole Paycheck.”