Democrats group in Congress requested in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to conduct an in-depth review of online retailer Amazon.com Inc’s plan about purchasing the grocer Whole Foods Market Inc.
The lawmakers asked the review to include consideration of the effect of the $13.7 billion deal could acquire access to healthy foods where residents may enjoy restricted access to fresh groceries.
“We do not resist the merger, but are concerned about this merger and that it could mean for African-American communities across the country who are already victims of lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers,” said the letter.
The letter was signed by U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge and 11 other Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker.
Amazon and Whole Foods hope to get bigger access to fresh food, said Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of policy, in a letter to Fudge.
“We agree that access to food is an important issue for the country, and we share your goal of improving that access,” said Huseman in the letter.
Amazon has lobbied to accept food stamps online and is participating in a pilot program.
“We provide low-cost, healthy food to zip codes across the country where Amazon had restricted access to high quality foods in large selection,” Huseman wrote to Fudge.
Fudge’s letter was made public by the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), representing many of the United States unionized grocery workers. Fudge’s office confirmed of sending the letter.
Amazon’s plan was to buy premium grocer Whole Foods and this sparked worries the deal could raise prices or reduce the products quality and hurt employment.
Still, most antitrust experts expect the Federal Trade Commission to approve the planned merger.