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Federal Trade Commission v. H.J. Heinz Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
246 F.3d 708 (2001)


H.J. Heinz Company (Heinz) (defendant) was one of three major competitors in the market for baby food. Gerber Products Company (Gerber) was the first market leader with a share of 65 percent, Heinz was second with 17.4 percent, and Milnot Holding Corporation (Beech-Nut) (defendant) was third with 15.4 percent. In February 2000, Heinz and Beech-Nut reached an agreement to merge. Before the agreement, Heinz was viewed as a value brand and priced its products lower than its competitors. Beech-Nut marketed its baby food as a premium product, which was generally considered to be of a similar quality to Gerber’s products. Heinz manufactured its products at a plant operating at only 40 percent of production capacity. After learning of the proposed merger, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (plaintiff) sued Heinz and Beech-Nut, claiming that the merger would violate antitrust law by producing significant anticompetitive effects in the baby food market. The FTC sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the merger from occurring until the case could be tried on the merits. The district court denied the injunction, holding that Heinz had identified pro-competitive, post-merger efficiencies sufficient to offset the danger to competition. The FTC appealed.

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