Online shopping giant Amazon is set to enter the US grocery industry after agreeing to buy Whole Foods for almost $14 billion. The deal would be the largest in Amazon’s 23-year existence, eclipsing its purchase of shoe retailer Zappos in 2009 by nearly $13bn.

The deal, which is worth $42 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $13.7bn, and includes the US natural and organic food specialist’s net debt, will see Whole Foods Market continuing to operate stores under its market brand.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said: “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy. Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Whole Foods’ headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas and chief executive John Mackey, who will remain in his position, added: “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximise value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers.”