Responding to the Justice Department’s threat of a lawsuit, Dole and Fresh Express have agreed to abandon a deal in which Fresh Express would have acquired Dole’s Fresh Vegetables Division for about $308 million.

“This termination is the result of the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision that it will pursue litigation to prevent the transaction,” Dole said in a brief statement.

The decision “preserves lower prices and availability for an essential kitchen staple,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Antitrust Division said. “This merger would have reduced the number of competitors from three to two and raised grocery prices for food products that are purchased by 85% of American households. I am grateful for the tireless efforts of the Antitrust Division’s lawyers, economists, paralegals and professional staff who made this result possible.”

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 Dole, on the other hand, said it “strongly disagrees” with DOJ “and continues to believe that the transaction was pro-competitive and would have unlocked ongoing benefits to customers and consumers.”

“We remain confident that we will have an alternative path forward in the near term that is in the best interests of the Fresh Vegetables Division’s employees, customers, and partners, and the Dole plc shareholders,” the company said.

DOJ noted in its press release that the packaged salad market represents $3.2 billion in spending by grocers and their customers each year.

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