Suing Your Wild Oats: Whole Foods Agrees to Sell Chain in Antitrust Settlement

200px-whole_foods_market_logosvgWhole Foods Market has agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in an antitrust case. Whole Foods has been under investigation since its merger with Wild Oats Markets, another high-end organic grocery chain. It was a miscalculation. FTC accused it of violating federal antitrust laws and now, in addition to the litigation costs, Whole Foods will have to sell 32 or 74 former Wild Oats stores.


Notably, Whole Foods will also have to give up valuable intellectual property rights, including rights to the Wild Oats brand name. Whole Foods has only six months to sell the stores, a bad time to shed such businesses.

It has been a long and costly fight for Whole Foods, which initially won against the FTC in district court and the appellate court in Washington, D.C. However, the FTC eventually got the D.C. Circuit to return the case to the trial court.

The settlement must be a bitter thing to swallow for the lawyers (who are all organic and free range attorneys) of Whole Foods after prevailing. It is good to know that the prohibitively priced fruits and vegetables that my family buys will now go to over litigation costs.

For the full story, click here.

5 thoughts on “Suing Your Wild Oats: Whole Foods Agrees to Sell Chain in Antitrust Settlement

  1. Whole Foods, aka whole paycheck, has created much bad will between itself and locally owned organic groceries so I don’t think there’s going to be much, “Don’t cry for me Argentina imported fruits and vegetables with a large carbon footprint” over this case! In fact, I predict schadenfreude, locally grown of course.

    My friend applied for a job there and from her description it was a rather cult like envirnoment. It was pretty much like Walmart and now that Walmart has organic products, it might be exactly like it, (except you can still get a plastic bag at Walmart without a withering look).

  2. Jill,

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who got the “culty” vibe from their corporate culture. I like the selection and quality, but the quality of service can be . . . interesting.

  3. Here in Gresham, Oregon, we were getting frustrated with Wild Oats because they were converting more and more to their “house brands,” and the quality and selection of meats and fish had gone down noticeably. Whole Foods took over, and accelerated the move to more house brands and less selection. We started shopping at a New Seasons market 15 miles away, where much of the produce is locally grown (and all labeled as to origin),the meat and fish are great and purchased from known Northwest sources, there is a large selection of brands (and not just “health food” brands), and the atmosphere is friendly. A few months after taking over Wild Oats, Whole Foods closed that store. We now have to shop at New Seasons, and couldn’t be happier.

  4. The Whole Foods in Madison is pretty unique in that it’s the last union grocery store left in town. Yes, UWFC union! Here, Whole Foods is in competition with an organic cooperative grocery –Willy Street Coop–and there’s great demand here for buying local. But yeah, those free range organic lawyers never come cheap, that’s for sure.

    Hello to Sandy Wilbur, I graduated from Barlow a few decades ago.

  5. Hey Hugo, or Ugo, whatever your name is,
    since you have repeated this same lame and incorrect posting at least 3 times, I will ask you one more time if you had been sleeping since Obama was sworn in? Did you miss the stimulus bill that the Republicans refused to cooperate with? That bill is designed to save or create 3 to 4 million jobs. Did you forget the fact that the recession started in December, 2007 and that over 4 million jobs were lost prior to Obama taking office? You are not being intellectually honest, but why doesn’t that surprise me coming from a multi-named Von Troll family member?

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