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A preliminary injunction hearing into the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) attempt to block the $565 million acquisition by Whole Foods of Wild Oats is set for July 31, according to press reports.

The FTC is looking to derail the acquisition on the premise that it will result in less competition, higher prices, and lowered quality and service. The FTC also maintains that Whole Foods chose to buy Wild Oats rather than compete with it.

Both Whole Foods and Wild Oats are challenging the FTC decision, maintaining that both chains are part of the broader supermarket industry, rather than simply being the two dominant players within a much smaller natural/organic retailing business.
KC's View:
On what planet is the Whole Foods-Wild Oats deal anti-competitive, and yet the A&P acquisition of Pathmark seems destined to go through? (It would seem to us far more likely that the A&P-Pathmark deal will result in higher prices, and lowered quality and service…but maybe we’re just impossibly cynical.)

We think that the ruling in this case will depend on whether the judge does his or her own shopping. If justice indeed is served, the judge will look at the FTC lawyers, laugh, and note that he or she just bought organic produce over the weekend at Wal-Mart or another mainstream retailer. And then toss the FTC out of court.