Amazon formally took ownership of Whole Foods this week after the Federal Trade Commission signaled on August 23 that it wouldn’t stop the deal.
The online retailer isn’t wasting any time remaking the high-end grocery chain in its low-price image. Its first act involved cutting prices on dozens of items, from avocados to tilapia. But that is not what is sending shivers down the aisles of rival food retailers like Walmart, which now controls 20 percent of the grocery market by pursuing just such a low-price strategy.
The reason, which the FTC ignored in providing its imprimatur, is that Amazon gives Whole Foods access to an online marketing platform that no other grocery company, even a behemoth like Walmart, can hope to reproduce.
My research suggests that only a few decades ago the FTC would have used antitrust law to block the deal – and it still has the power to do so.
Woodcock, Ramsi, "Amazon's Whole Foods Deal Could Still Be Reversed Thanks to Forgotten Antitrust Case" (2017). Law Faculty Popular Media. 69.