3 Consumer Groups Speak Out Against Whole Foods/Wild Oats Marriage

Three consumer groups have filed an amicus brief on behalf of the FTC, which has moved to block Whole Foods’ attempt to purchase rival Wild Oats. A federal judge is expected to rule on the case soon; in the meantime, Whole Foods earlier today extended its offer to Wild Oats until August 15th. Omg this is totally like when Heidi decided to move in with Spencer on The Hills! (We had to go to Wikipedia to write that sentence.)

The FTC wants to block the buyout because they think it will lead to increased prices and decreased quality, because the two chains are the two biggest competitors among premium natural and organic grocers. Both companies have responded that a merger would actually lower Wild Oats’ prices, and that traditional grocery stores–which are quickly expanding their organic and natural food inventories to meet consumer demand–are their real competitors. Our question: if Wild Oats is actually more expensive than Whole Foods, who shops there? We’re guessing Warren Buffet and Oprah.

Whole Foods extends Wild Oats tender again [Reuters]

AAI and Others File Amicus Brief in Whole Foods-Wild Oats Merger, Supporting the FTC [American Antitrust Institute]

Comments

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  1. hustler says:

    does anyone know where I can get a $9 chicken breast?

  2. B says:

    “f Wild Oats is actually more expensive than Whole Foods, who shops there?”
    People who don’t live near a Whole Foods.

  3. Amy Alkon says:

    Wild Oats is much more brown rice’y than Whole Foods, and has fewer deals, and “B,” above, is exactly right.

  4. Projoe says:

    So they scrutinize a merger of two smallish super market chains, but they let Ma Bell basically piece itself back together? Makes sense to me.

  5. agent2600 says:

    if a company has enough money to make another company want to sell there company to them, more power to them.

    This anti-monopoly stuff is out dated and stupid, we need to stop pretending that monopolies don’t exsist (because evey major company; apple, sony, mircosoft, ford, honda, verizon, at&t, ect ect ect.) and just accept that it is the world we live in.

  6. agent2600 says:

    PS, the FTC is a bunch of morons

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  8. timmus says:

    The only kind of business that should have a name like Wild Oats is a “gentleman’s club” (ironic quotes added). It’s sure better than cheesy names like Sugars or Fantasy’s.

  9. Clobberella says:

    I really prefer Wild Oats to Whole Foods. The atmosphere at Wild Oats seems a lot nicer and less mega-mart-ish to me. I’ve never really noticed any major price differences (although I pretty much only go there to buy cheese, so I could be wrong). It will be interesting to see what happens if this merger goes through. If Wild Oats turns into crap, there are other alternatives around here.

  10. TedSez says:

    I’m lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of shopping choices, including a large Whole Foods and two Wild Oats. Whole Foods seems to me to have a lot of high-quality items and to be ridiculously expensive — it’s a place for rich people (and there are a lot of those where I live too). Wild Oats has a fewer homemade items and more packaged goods, and they’re pretty expensive too, but they put a lot of things on sale every week. I imagine if they merged with Whole Foods, there would be fewer things on sale and at a lower discount. (I also bet one or both of the Wild Oats would close, because there would be no reason to have three of the same company’s stores within two square miles.)

    As for me, I make the obvious choice and shop at Trader Joe’s.

  11. katewrath says:

    I live within 20 minutes walk of 1 Whole Foods and 2 Wild Oats. Whole Foods needs to acquire Wild Oats before someone burns the stores to the ground.

    WO routinely neglects to stock a major vegetable group, like potatoes. Not just red potatoes or russet potatoes, but all potatoes of every kind. Also, I am sorry to say that I have bought a $5 red pepper at WO. (It was chili night and I was desperate.)

    Whole Foods is expensive, but they clearly have the benefit of some bulk purchasing agreements and pass those benefits onto the consumers. If the merger goes through, they will still be subject to market pressure from the 8 other stores (3 separate chains) in the vincinity, and I pray, shopping at Wild Oats will no longer be a total fiasco.

  12. muckpond says:

    in indianapolis, we have two wild oats’ (i don’t know how to pluralize that). there’s also a “sunflower market” (which was awesome when it opened, but is quickly becoming irrelevant). in a metropolitan area of 1.2 million people, i think that’s pathetic.

    in any case, i’ve never set foot in a whole foods but i frequently shop at wild oats. i’ve found that if i stay away from the meat and dairy, the prices aren’t too horrible.

    they’re supposed to open a whole foods here but it’s part of a gigantic development requiring the removal of hundreds of trees in one of the last wooded areas in that part of town….and right across the street from a completely abandoned shopping center that is ripe for redevelopment. the wild oats is built into a storefront that has been there for about 40 years. for that reason alone i’ll stick to wild oats.

    …of course, if this merger goes through we’ll probably end up with TWO completely empty shopping centers and a brand new whole foods built on previously undeveloped land. what a bunch of shit.

  13. elimseoj says:

    All the larger chains are into organic foods today. They will eat Whole Foods and Wild Oats for breakfast unless this merger happens. In three years there will be no Whole Foods or Wild Oats – eaten, digested, into the crapper.

    Look at Wal-Mart eating the TV, PC, Ipod, oops (Yum) electronic stores.

    Let Whole Foods compete with a chance to survive.

  14. andrewsmash says:

    What a load – Here in Leftie central (portland, or), we have 4 large natural food chains (wild oats, whole foods, trader joes, and new seasons) as well as fred meyers (a kroger store). They all offer organic fair and they all seem to be doing pretty well. It’s just that none of them are dominant. Every time there was a merger (like when nature’s became wild oats) they have closed local stores and raised prices. The only one who benefits is the false god “efficiency”.

  15. nardo218 says:

    FIWIW, Whole Foods was built on hostile takeovers. (I wokred there, I got the info from the source.)

  16. marsneedsrabbits says:

    We have a Wild Oats and a Whole Foods roughly equidistant from our house. I go to Whole Foods more often, though, because they seem to have a deeper selection – they both have organic jam, for example, but Whole Foods would generally have more brands, or types or whatever. That said, I try to shop at the three or so tiny “health food” stores in town more than the other two. All three are independently owned (and independent of each other), have incredible selections, considering their small stores, and are always staffed with people willing to order stuff, make suggestions, and explain products.
    In all the fuss over this merger, I hope people don’t forget the small independent stores that exist in most towns of any size.

  17. synergy says:

    Apparently no one because otherwise they wouldn’t need to be bought it, eh?

    Can we have it in writing that their prices will go down and STAY down??

  18. synergy says:

    @agent2600: That’s only because of deregulation. I can’t remember if the fault should be laid at a Reagan or Bush doorstep.