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Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Seasons: Now What?

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:36 PM

Breaking Food News: Yesterday, New Seasons Market heard from their attorneys that the Federal Trade Commission ruled they must hand over sensitive documents to Whole Foods or risk fines or jail time. From the New Seasons Blog:

We disagree with and are disappointed in this decision. We’re huddling with the lawyers to figure out what our next step is going to be and I’ll get back to you once we have a clear direction. This isn’t over yet.

This is the newest development in the fight between New Seasons and Whole Foods, whose decision to take over Wild Oats launched an FTC investigation, prompting Whole Foods to subpoena sensitive documents from New Seasons, including market research and plans for future development.

In a previous New Seasons blog post, CEO Brian Rohter joked that he might be willing to go to jail rather than give up the documents:

Of course I asked what would happen if we refused. The answer was that we could be held in contempt of court and subject to large fines or even jail time. In case anyone is planning on visiting me there, I really love doing the daily Oregonian crossword and also M&M Peanuts.

His time to decide has come.

What is clear throughout this whole struggle is that Whole Foods is not playing fair. Preeminent Portland food blogger Food Dude exposed comments on his post related to the food fight from Whole Foods employees posing as everyday Portland citizens. The comments were highly critical of New Seasons and praised Whole Foods.

I, for one, support Brian Rohter, and would be more than happy to bring him M&M's in jail.

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