Antitrust Law

FTC to Challenge Whole Foods Purchase

The Federal Trade Commission plans to file a lawsuit to stop grocer Whole Foods Market Inc. from buying a competitor.

The agency contends the grocer’s planned $565 million purchase of Wild Oats Markets Inc. will result in higher prices and reduced consumer choices, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

In the FTC’s view, both stores are in a specialty market for natural and organic foods rather than the broader grocery market.

Whole Foods says there is robust competition in the grocery industry and it will vigorously challenge the FTC’s suit. It contends larger grocery stores now offer offer similar natural products.

Wayne State University law professor Stephen Calkins told the New York Times the challenge reminds him of the FTC’s successful effort to block the merger of Staples and Office Depot.

The FTC focused on the office superstore market rather than the availability of office products, said Calkins, a former FTC general counsel.

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