The FTC thinks that Whole Food’s buyout of competitor Wild Oats would lead to increased prices and decreased quality according to a statement issued on June 5. They’re planning to block the buyout. “Whole Foods and Wild Oats are each other’s closest competitors in premium natural and organic supermarkets, and are engaged in intense head-to-head competition in markets across the country,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “If Whole Foods is allowed to devour Wild Oats, it will mean higher prices, reduced quality, and fewer choices for consumers.”
According to the FTC, the buyout of Wild Oats by Whole Foods would violate Section 5 of the FTC Act which prohibits “unfair methods of competition,” and Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which prohibits companies from acquiring their closest competitor.
Whole Foods claims that the FTC fails to recognize that other retailers like Walmart are moving into the organic market and are thus competing for Whole Food’s business. We’d say, “Yummy salad bar, but too expensive.” Sadly, no one asked. —MEGHANN MARCO