FTC Seeks Public Comments on Trustee's Proposal to Divest Two Stores under Whole Foods Market Inc. Divestiture Order; FTC To Review Three Agency Rules in 2010

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FTC Seeks Public Comments on Trustee's Proposal to Divest Two Stores under Whole Foods Market Inc. Divestiture Order

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on applications filed by the Divestiture Trustee to divest two stores pursuant to the Commission’s March 5, 2009 order, which was issued to help restore the competition lost by Whole Foods Market Inc.’s 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Market, Inc. Under that order, the Commission appointed The Food Partners as the Divestiture Trustee to divest certain Wild Oats stores and the intellectual property associated with the Wild Oats brand. The Divestiture Trustee is now requesting FTC approval to sell the former Wild Oats store at 4301 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, to Healthy Investments, LLC; and the former Wild Oats store at 1651 Broadway in Boulder, Colorado, to A-M Holdings, LLC. This is the first divestiture application filed by the Trustee.

The Commission is accepting public comments on the Divestiture Trustee’s petitions for 30 days, until April 2, 2010. Written comments should be sent to: FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Copies of the petitions can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release. (FTC Docket No. 9324; the staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526; see press release dated March 6, 2009, at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/03/wholefoods.shtm.)

FTC To Review Three Agency Rules in 2010

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to review three of the agency’s regulatory rules in 2010: one that affects grocery store advertising, a second that involves merchants who make credit available to customers purchasing their goods or services, and a third that sets labeling requirements for alternative fuels.

  • The Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule, also known as the Unavailability Rule. Under this rule, it is a violation of federal advertising law for grocery stores to advertise products for sale at a stated price unless they are in stock and available during the effective period of the advertisement – or unless the retailer offers either a “raincheck” for the advertised products, or similar products that are at least comparable in value to the advertised ones.
  • The Preservation of Consumers’ Claims and Defenses Rule, also known as the Holder in Due Course Rule. This rule preserves consumers’ rights to raise claims and defenses against purchasers of consumer credit contracts.
  • The Labeling Requirements for Alternative Fuels and Alternative Fueled Vehicles Rule, also known as the Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Rule. This rule sets labeling requirements for non-liquid alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and electricity, and for some vehicles powered in whole or in part by alternative fuels.

As part of its review, the Commission will request public comments on the economic impact of and continuing need for the rules; possible conflict between the rules and other laws or regulations; and the effect of any technological, economic, or other industry changes on the rules. The FTC will publish a Federal Register notice soon announcing the 2010 rule reviews. It is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. The Federal Register notice includes a revised 10-year schedule for regulatory review of its rules, guides, and regulations.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice was 4-0. The Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule is found in 16 C.F.R. part 424; the Preservation of Consumers’ Claims and Defenses Rule is found in 16 C.F.R. part 433; and the Labeling Requirements for Alternative Fuels and Alternative Fueled Vehicles Rule is found in 16 C.F.R. part 309. (FTC File No. P924214; the staff contact is Janice P. Frankle, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3022.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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