Grocery chain Woodman's sues Clorox alleging price discrimination

The Woodman's grocery store chain is suing Clorox Corp., alleging price discrimination.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, Woodman's claims Clorox will only make large packs of products available to warehouse clubs, including Costco and Sam's Club. The Janesville-based company claims that's a violation of a federal law, the Robinson-Patman Act, which prohibits anti-competitive practices, including price discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that Clorox told Woodman's it was changing its marketing strategy by placing the grocer into a different "channel" than Costco and Sam's Club, and creating the "right assortment" of sizes and brands for different retailers based on their shoppers, the State Journal ( ) reported. But those justifications don't address the claims of price discrimination, according to Woodman's. And the practice will hurt its ability to compete with the nearby warehouse clubs, the company said.

Clorox, based in Oakland, California, said it's prepared to stand by its policy.

"We believe this lawsuit is without merit and intend to vigorously defend against it," said Kathryn Caulfield, vice president of global corporate communications.

Clorox is most known for its cleaning products, but also makes a wide array of items, including plastic bags, cat litter, charcoal and condiments.

Woodman's operates 15 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,