Whole Foods, Instacart expand grocery delivery in L.A., 14 other cities

Whole Foods and start-up Instacart will offer grocery delivery in 15 cities

Whole Foods Market is expanding its partnership with start-up Instacart to offer quick grocery delivery in 15 cities, including Los Angeles.

The Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain has already worked with Instacart to offer grocery delivery in select stores and now plans to expand the number of stores and cities that offer the service.

The companies are also piloting an in-store pickup service at some Whole Foods stores in Boston and Austin, along with embedded Instacart personal shoppers who will ensure speedy deliveries and package in-store orders quickly. Customers will be able to shop online at home and pick up their orders in stores. That option will be expanded in coming months to other cities.

Walter Robb, co-chief executive of Whole Foods, said working with Instacart allows the company to offer an "additional convenience for our customers."

Instacart is one of many food start-ups that have sprung up in the last few years, eager to take advantage of customers with refined palates who are too busy to grab takeout or go grocery shopping. This year, GrubHub, the owner of delivery service Seamless, raised $192 million in its initial public offering.

Venture capital funding is pouring into the space. More than $1.6 billion was invested last year into food-related tech companies, up 33% from $1.2 billion in 2012, according to a report from consulting firm Rosenheim Advisors. And 2014 is forecast to be an even bigger year for food start-up funding.

Shoppers who are ordering groceries can order from Instacart either online or via the mobile app. Produce and other products are organized by available stores in your area, and shoppers can choose a delivery window of one hour, two hours or at a scheduled time.

The orders are sent to Instacart personal shoppers, who will pick up everything on the list and deliver it to the buyer's doorstep. The first order is free; after that it costs $5.99 for one-hour delivery or $3.99 for two-hour delivery. Customers can also buy a $99 annual membership to receive free delivery on orders over $35.

Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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