BUSINESS

FTC's Obsession With Whole Foods Could Harm Smaller Stores

01/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Now, a local, nine-store natural foods purveyor based in Portland, OR, called New Seasons Market--which had no involvement whatsoever in the Wild Oats takeover--finds itself caught in the legal crossfire between the bureaucrats and lawyers representing its giant 270-store competitor.

In mid-October, Whole Foods' attorneys sent a subpoena to New Seasons CEO Brian Rohter that could force him to give the competition copies of what he says are his company's most sensitive and confidential financial records, including sales figures, marketing plans, strategic plans, and studies into potential locations for new stores.

"Since the FTC insists that we have harmed these markets, we have to defend ourselves by showing that these markets are doing well," said Whole Foods spokeswoman Paige Brady, in response to a fascinating (if chilling) blog post written by Rohter on the New Seasons website.

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