In land of grocery giants, this merger is small potatoes

A federal appeals court has approved the $565 million sale of Wild Oats Markets to its larger rival, Whole Foods Market Inc. As the court viewed it, the tie-up of the two leaders in the premium natural and organic food business was a necessary step for their survival against much larger conventional chains, which account for about 60 percent of all natural and organic food products sold. Based on combined 2006 sales of $6.8 billion last year, Whole Foods and Wild Oats would only be the 15th-largest US grocery chain. The top US supermarket and grocery chains based on 2006 sales in billions of dollars:

1. Wal-Mart Supercenters* $91.9

2. The Kroger Co. $60.6

3. Safeway, Inc. $38.4

4. SUPERVALU, Inc. $35.2

5. Costco Wholesale Group $31.8

6. Sam's Club $24.3

7. Ahold USA, Inc. $24.0

8. Publix Super Markets, Inc. $21.8

9. Delhaize America $17.3

10. H-E-B $12.4

* represents grocery revenue only

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