In recent years, certain large corporations have taken off, earning unparalleled popularity and power in the modern consumer market. Many of these companies offer unbelievable convenience packaged in much nicer terms than the powerful corporations of yesteryear; Whole Foods might be a giant chain of supermarkets just like Kroger’s, but its walls are plastered with its dedication to sustainability and local produce. And Amazon might be a cheap way to get access to pretty much any sort of retail product you can dream up, but it’s just another retail corporation like some of its less successful competitors. Recently, Amazon has been looking to acquire Whole Foods. The level of convenience the consumer would receive from such a deal is undeniable, yet beneath that could be a dangerously powerful monopoly.
Because of this, there have been calls for the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize the deal. A letter from a group of lawmakers have expressed concerns that “further consolidation” would impact communities where access to healthy food is already limited. Many believe that it could substantially lessen competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or constitute an unfair method of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC, however, has decided that such suspicions are unfounded, and have chosen to not pursue the matter further. While the deal came under scrutiny from many, it was expected by most experts to be approved.
The $13.7 billion deal was first proposed by Amazon back in June. Shareholders for Whole Foods have approved the deal on Wednesday. While Amazon has been traditionally a strictly online business, the company has been planning to acquire hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores. Whole Foods being owned by Amazon would give the company access to hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores across the country. Furthermore, Whole Foods has been working to diversify its traditionally pricey offerings, starting a chain of Market 365 spinoff stores, meant to appeal to millennials with smaller, more affordable stores. With this in mind, the Whole Foods/Amazon megapower is looking to face stiff competition from Walmart and Google, who have announced their own strategy by offering shoppers access to Walmart’s inventory through Google technology. It will be interesting to see which of these powers emerges victorious.