Sysco announced this week that it  has notified U.S. Foods Inc. that it is extending its agreement to acquire rival U.S. Foods by 60 days in anticipation of antitrust hearings scheduled to start in May.  Sysco said the termination date for the proposed merger, initially reached in December 2013, was changed to May 7 from March 8 in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Hearings are scheduled to start May 5 on the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against the merger of the two biggest food distributors in the United States.  FTC alleges that the merger would create a dominant national company that could raise prices and reduce service for its customers in the foodservice industry.  Sysco and U.S. Foods provide food, paper products, and a wide range of other supplies to restaurants, hospitals, schools, and other institutions.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said he would consider the case from May 5-8 and would add additional days if needed. Judge Mehta is only considering whether to issue a preliminary injunction to block the companies from merging.  The FTC will holds a longer trial in its in-house administrative court system beginning in July.