Federal Trade Commission Competition Director Jeffrey Schmidt expressed regret at the federal district court decision announced today in the Whole Foods/Wild Oats case, calling it a loss for both consumers and competition.
“We respect the Court’s decision, which we currently are reviewing. We brought this challenge because the evidence before us showed that the merger would most likely result in higher prices and reduced choices for consumers who shop at premium natural and organic supermarkets,” Schmidt said. “We are reviewing our options.”
On June 5, 2007, the FTC authorized its staff to seek a federal district court order to prevent Whole Foods from acquiring Wild Oats. The FTC argued in court in Washington, DC, on July 31 and August 1, 2007 that the merger would violate federal antitrust laws by substantially reducing competition in the market for premium natural and organic supermarkets in several geographic areas throughout the United States. The federal district court decision announced today allows the transaction to proceed, pending the FTC’s filing of a request for emergency stay with the district and appellate courts prior to its appeal being heard. The Commission also has authorized the staff to act on its administrative complaint to permanently enjoin the merger.