Union Workers, Consumer Advocates, and Competition Policy Experts Urge FTC to Block Kroger-Albertsons Merger
Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project and a coalition of local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today hosted a virtual event—featuring policy experts, consumers, and grocery workers—urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the harmful Kroger-Albertsons merger. The event comes alongside a new policy brief from Economic Liberties, which substantively breaks down this merger’s effect on food prices, consumer choice, and supply chain fragility, titled “SupermarketSqueeze: The Real Costs of the Kroger-Albertsons Deal.”
“The FTC must not fall for the tired ‘efficiency’ arguments marched out to defend yet another grocery merger,” said Krista Brown, Policy Analyst at the American Economic Liberties Project. “The combination of two of the four largest grocers in the country—who are each other’s biggest competitor in a significant number of markets—will only add to the harms resulting from decades of consolidation in the industry. Americans’ grocery bills will rise as the loss of competition will inevitably embolden Kroger to double down on its greedflation. Farmers and other suppliers who are already squeezed out of profits will face an even more formidable bargaining partner. No divestment plan will solve the anticompetitive effects of this merger, and the FTC should act accordingly.”
“My local union is part of a coalition of unions that have been opposing this merger ever since it was announced more than a year ago. We represent over a hundred thousand employees at Kroger and Albertsons.” said Kim Cordova, President of UFCW Local 7 and International Vice President of UFCW. “These two companies are the largest and second largest employers respectively of the UFCW members in the United States. This megamerger would allow them to become the largest grocery chain in the country, wielding tremendous power not just over consumers and suppliers, but over workers as well.”
As the diversity of the coalition opposing the merger suggests, it would be bad news for just about everyone except company executives, and the brief provides a comprehensive rundown of these harms. Grocery consolidation leads to higher prices for consumers in the long run—an outcome that seems particularly likely in this case given Kroger’s recent history of exploiting opportunities to jack up prices. A merged Kroger-Albertsons will also have increased leverage to squeezeproducers out of profits, bankrupting farmers, disadvantaging independent grocers, and creating pressure for further consolidation up the supply chain. Store closures will put many communities, especially in rural and low-income areas, at risk of becoming food and pharmacy deserts. Finally, by reducing labor market competition, grocery workers will lose bargaining power and potentially face lower wages, worse working conditions, and layoffs. The UFCW estimates 5,750 jobs could be lost in the Los Angeles region alone.
Kroger and Albertsons have responded to competition concerns with a proposal to divest roughly 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers. As the brief lays out, this proposal is entirely insufficient. It offers a hollow promise of competition—C&S is primarily a supplier with limited retail operating presence, and none on the West Coast—as well as the poor track record of recent divestment remedies.
The event featured remarks and firsthand accounts of grocery consolidation from affected stakeholders, including:
- Kevin Flynn, UFCW 3000 Grocery Store Worker, Albertsons store in Marysville, WA
- Mike Callicrate, Owner and Founder, Ranch Foods Direct
- Julian Aguayo, UFCW 770 Member and Grocery Store Worker, Food 4 Less
- Graham Downey, Economic Justice Lead, Public Interest Research Group & Alaska resident
Read “Supermarket Squeeze: The Real Costs of the Kroger-Albertsons Deal” for more information.
Rewatch the full event here.
Learn more about Economic Liberties here.
The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.