The trial, scheduled to begin on April 6, will determine whether Whole Foods’ merger with rival Wild Oats market should be reversed. The FTC is arguing the merger stifles competition in the natural and organic food market, while Whole Foods maintains that the integration of the two companies is virtually complete and is good for consumers.
Whole Foods says it has already spent $16.5 million on the FTC dispute, and could stand to lose millions more if the case continues to drag on.
“While it looks like we are caught in a procedural loop, there is no question our due process and equal protection rights have been violated and we intend to pursue this case until we can get a hearing in a federal court about those violations,” Lanny Davis, attorney for Whole Foods, told the Associated Press January 23.
According to 2007 NBJ research, Whole Foods sales made up about 20% of total natural health food/specialty retail channel sales at the time of the merger in June 2007, while Wild Oats contributed a little more than 4%.
For more on NBJ’s coverage of Whole Foods’ acquisition of Wild Oats click here.
The NBJ blog also includes NBJ Publisher Patrick Rea’s numbers analysis of the deal.