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Trade secrets and proprietary data that was provided under protest to Whole Foods by a number of its competitors – including Kroger, Delhaize, New Seasons Markets, HEB, Ahold and Harris Teeter – back during the days when the organic/natural food chain was fighting with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its acquisition of Wild Oats now could be made public as a result of another, unconnected lawsuit.

Whole Foods wanted the data, and its demand was supported by the courts, because it said the company said it needed the information to prove that the acquisition was not hurting consumers and was not anti-competitive; while the judge supported the Whole Foods demand, he also said that the information would be safeguarded so as not to hurt the competitors that provided it. The FTC and Whole Foods subsequently resolved their differences.

Now, however, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Whole Foods, charging the company with engaging in anti-competitive pricing after it acquired Wild Oats…and the suit asks that the trade secrets and competitive data be provided in order to prove its case.

The chains involved are fighting the request, saying there has been no demonstrated need for the information.
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