The A&P yesterday won a Supreme Court review of a federal Trade Commission order to stop inducing or accepting for dairy products suppliers' prices alleged by the Federal Trade Commission to be unlawfully discriminatory.
The 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FTC last June in a case involving some 200 Chicago-area A&Ps.
The agency had asked the Supreme Court to let the decision stand, saying that the "real compalint" of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. - as it is formally called - was with provisions of the Clayton Antitrust Act intended to limit the exercise of bargaining power of large buyers.
But in petitioning for review, A & P told the justices that, if not reversed, the decision will restrict its opportunity to make available to consumers "the benefits of bargaining and lower costs in the form of lower prices . . .
In other actions, the justices:
Rejected a challenge by Consumers Union, the non-profit testing organization, to restraints on textile imports that CU says may cost consumers several billion annually.
Let stand the federal wire-fraud conviction of financier Bernard Cornfeld for directing employes of his Grayhall Inc. to use so-called "blue box" devices> including two at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home, to make hundreds of illegally toll-free overseas and long-distance calls.
The A & P case dates back to 1964, when the company directed its buyers to investigate the savings available in swithching from brand-label to A & P lable milk.
In this Chicago area, A & P invited bids from processors including Borden Inc., a supplier since 1950, and Bowman Dairy.
Borden's bid - on 11 dairy items - would have permitted annual savings of $410,000 if A & P went exclusively to its own label. Bowman's would have saved $737,000.
The FTC complaint arose from what happened next, A & P, without disclosing the Bowman offer, told Borden that a better bid had been made, and tha even a $50,000 improvement in Borden's offer would be "not even in the ballpark."
Borden responded by making a successful offer $83,000 better than Bowman's.
Borden did this with the explicit statement that it could justify the bid only to meet competition, and it eliminated of products in refrigerator cases. Starting in 1965, its sales to A & P were $5 million to $6 million a year.
In the textile imports case, the center of controversy was the interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), which was established by an executive order.
In a suit in June 1974, Consumers Union contended in federal court that CITA couldn't impose import quotas without first determining, under standard administrative procedures, whether actual or potential disruption of the marketwould result.