back to article Minnesota Senator calls out US watchdogs: Why so cozy with Amazon?

A ranking member of the Senate's Antitrust Subcommittee wants a top US regulator to explain why it was so quick to approve Amazon's purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) says she is "concerned" over the speed with which Amazon completed its $13.7bn acquisition of the kombucha-slinging organic …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Short Answer

    Retail grocery is dominated by companies much larger than Whole Foods + Amazon. Try Walmart, Kroger for a start.

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Short Answer

      It's more like wally world has it's panties in a bunch. Walmart told

      it vendors/partners not to use AWS

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Short Answer

      Amazon is buying the FTC later this year so they are unable to comment on this ...

      Joking aside, this is probably just a further effect of the Republicans pushing for less government interference with business ... they have been quite vocal about "FTC interference" in the past - we can expect more of this...

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Short Answer

        "we can expect more of this..."

        which is of course good and bad at the same time, depending on your perspective.

        On the one hand, you don't want gummint red tape gumming everything up [and requiring payola in the form of campaign contributions to get past it, which is the worst form of corruption in this regard]. On the other hand, you want enough regulation to keep the playing field level.

        A good point, Amazon mail-order groceries probably aren't going to dent Safeway, Kroger, Walmart, Target, and others who are busy going for each other's markets at the moment.

        Safeway and Kroger have traditional "union worker" staffing. Walmart and Target do not. Safeway/Vons has merged with Albertsons/Lucky stores (a few years back) and as such, there's "less choice" except for Walmart and Target. So competition is still there. I don't go to "whole foods" type markets anyway since their prices are high and selection low (by comparison). Several of THOSE exist around here, like Henry's or a couple of others I can't recall. So yeah, the only ones really affected are those who can ALREADY afford to have groceries delivered to their houses. That's not me, nor anyone shopping at Vons (Safeway) or Ralphs (Kroger) or Walmart or Target [me most of the time, to save money].

        Realistically, this buyout/merger probably won't affect too many people. It sounds like the FTC made the right call... and GETTING OUT OF THE FREAKING WAY while they were at it.

      2. wayne 8

        Re: Short Answer

        It's Amazon. The monopoly trust that isn't one. Not a product of either political party.

        Bezos is untouchable. But not in the dot Indian way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Short Answer

          Bezos is aiming high. It is clear to me from the Wholefoods purchase that they have the likes of Walmart and Target and a host of other retailers firmly in their sights.

          Their aim has to be the only retailer left standing when Wallyworld goes to the wall.

          They'll have huge mega depots all over the world with probably less than 50 staff. All the movement of goods in and out will be automated. Their fleet of driverless semis (Tesla's) will take the goods to smaller and more local distribution centres. Goods will be sent out for delivery by automated trucks and drones. Again very few humans involved.

          Robots don't earn a salary, need benefits or pay taxes.

          What I don't see in the Bezos Utopia is how people will afford to buy anything if they don't have a job or an income because everything has been automated?

          I'm glad that I won't live to see this so called Utopia in reality.

    3. Purple-Stater

      Re: Short Answer

      If the acquisition does go through, expect Amazon/Whole Foods to skyrocket to the top. Prime members will be more than happy to jump on getting free (and probably same-day) delivery of their groceries, even if they cost a little more. No more big shopping trips, just order a couple items every day and watch landfills explode.

    4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @Yank Lurker Re: Short Answer


      Wrong answer.

      Amazon is much larger than the other grocer chains in terms of total capital. Walmart is close, but not a major player in terms of the grocery market.

      You can talk about Kroger, HEB (yes, Harry E Butts) , Jewel, and other regional players, along with Auldi (German discount grocer) , Trader Joes... etc.

      The reason we should question the purchase is that its Amazon who is the largest retailer in the world. Want to watch the startups who are shipping pre-packaged but cook your own meal (aka Blue Apron) go under because Whole Foods will get in to that space and use Amazon's logistics ?

      There's more, but you get the idea.

      The funny thing is that its a Democrat sounding the alarm. I guess Bezos forgot to pay her off.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Fazal Majid

    The fact Target is headquartered in Minnesota must be fortuitous.

    1. wayne 8

      Congrats on finding the key point.

      Minnesota Governor Dayton (his family founded Target) is pleased with Amy and her fight for the Public Good.

      Buying your fruits and veggies over the Internet?

      To be delivered in non-temperature controlled UPS/USPS truck?

      You can't be cereal.

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Confused about the customer data bit

    I thought every detail of an American's life that goes through a computer was openly for sale already. Why would this be new data for Amazon?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It could be any of these four things or possibly something else,

    Greasy palms.

    Brown Envelopes.

    Pork barrels.

    I'm confused, is the Senate's Antitrust Subcommittee a misnomer?

    1. sisk Silver badge

      I'm confused, is the Senate's Antitrust Subcommittee a misnomer?

      Not at all. They're working quite hard to ensure Americans never trust the Senate.

  5. DougS Silver badge

    "why a process that usually takes several months to complete was concluded in less than 10 weeks"

    Doesn't it usually take longer than "several months"? And isn't "several" usually taken to mean something like 'a single digit number greater than 2', meaning 10 weeks is only three weeks short of fitting in such a definition?

  6. DougS Silver badge

    It is surprising how quick it was for one reason

    Trump hates the Washington Post, because they have real journalists who do old-school investigate reporting, including digging up dirt on him and his campaign (i.e. "fake news")

    Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon, also owns the Washington Post. Trump even hinted at antitrust issues with one of his tweets, though his lawyers may have told him saying stuff like that isn't helping him look less guilty so he decided not to intervene.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: It is surprising how quick it was for one reason

      "Trump hates the Washington Post"

      so do a LOT of people. G. Gordon Liddy called it "The Washington Bleep" back in the 90's.

      The 'Washington Bleep' is probably as bad as CNN as far as "fake news" goes.

      But yeah, 1st ammendment, as long as it's not outright libel, they can print whatever.

      Funny how Bezos owns it, though.

      1. ST Silver badge

        Re: It is surprising how quick it was for one reason

        > G. Gordon Liddy called it "The Washington Bleep" back in the 90's.

        G. Gordon Liddy. Yeah, there's a reference we should all keep in mind. NOT.

        If memory serves me right, G. Gordon Liddy is a convicted felon who masterminded the Watergate break-in. Is that right? He went to prison, didn't he?

  7. Mike 16 Silver badge

    What I want to know

    Is whether AmaFoods will adopt its parent's casual attitude toward counterfeit and other dodgy goods. Getting a fake pair of headphones is not usually the sort of life-threatening event as getting fake kale, or meat past it's "Sell or Freeze by" date.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: What I want to know

      Amazon just delivered a Samsung 512GB PRO SSD with a radiator cap, upper radiator hose, and a thermostat for a 1999 Ford Explorer in the same box with zero bubblewrap, peanuts, or those big airbag packaging to my office this past Tuesday. I didn't put them on the same order (the SSD carrier adapter showed up the day before with lots of bubblewrap).

      I can't wait to see what combinations will be made when food is added to the mix - that new 20TB NAS in the same box as your 5qt container of Mobil1 5-30wt oil, oranges, milk, and 10 pounds of ground beef... makes total sense.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: What I want to know

        Strange that. Here in the UK Amazon orders made at the same time, for similar items, often come in separate oversized packages, full of packaging materials.

  8. Don Casey

    Where is the anti-trust angle?

    This is not a case where the number of corporate entities in an economic sector decreases, impacting competition (which is pretty much all the FTC cares about).

    If two different grocery chains were to merge the FTC would rightly need to look deeply into it. Not sure that holds here, regardless of how you view Amazon. If anything, this could increase competition.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Where is the anti-trust angle?

      I agree. Some of the non-food stuff that Wholefoods sells (cleaning and personal care items), Amazon also sels, but neither are big players in that market.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where is the anti-trust angle?

        Amazon also sels, but neither are big players in that market.

        Yet. Just watch this space (or rather the Amazon Wholefoods space).

        IMHO, there is no market that Amazon will not go for with the aim of dominating in double quick time.

        How long will it be before I can no longer buy my milk straight from the Farm without paying an amazon 'affiliate' their dues?

        {said Farm is just 3 miles from my home and thus the food miles are zero as I collect it myself when out on my bike}

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Where is the anti-trust angle?

          The FTC exists to protect competition, not to protect competitors. If you want to buy a bottle of liquid soap, does this merger reduce the choices you have of where to get it? Not really.

          If, in the future, Amazon improves their offering to the point that you consider them instead of Wallmart (UK: Asda) or Wallgreens (UK: Boots), that represents an increase in competition, not a reduction.

  9. sisk Silver badge

    I have two thoughts on this matter. First, the question really isn't "w/hy was this approved so fast". It's "Why the hell does this normally take several months?"

    Second, I wanna know how big a "campaign contribution" Klobuchar just got from Wal-Mart.

  10. David Roberts Silver badge

    Why no headline link?

    Klobucher name checked.

    Kombucha referenced high up in the text.

    You are Klobucher and I sell Kombucha let's call the whole thing off?

    I woner if the subs missed the obvious opportunity or were too proud?

    Edit: I sell Kombucha and you are Klobucher?

  11. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Given that this is the Chump Trump administration, I'm surprised that there is even a Federal Trade Commission left around for the good Senator to complain to.

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