Grocers Want FTC & DOJ To Probe Merger Enforcement In Retail Power Buyers

The National Grocers Association today submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging the agency to scrutinize harm to competition that results from enhancement of buyer-side market power.

In its comments, NGA argues that merger transactions must be challenged when the combined firm gains the ability to demand preferential terms and conditions from suppliers in a way that disfavors rivals. NGA’s comments are aimed at the association’s goal of reining in dominant food retail “power buyers” that have amassed immense economic power as a result of increasing consolidation in the retail grocery sector.

“In addition to lax enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act, independent grocers are put at a disadvantage because dominant retailers have been allowed to consolidate with little consideration over how these transactions increase anticompetitive buyer power,” said Chris Jones, NGA’s SVP of government relations and counsel. “NGA appreciates the opportunity to weigh in with antitrust enforcers about the need for a fresh approach towards merger enforcement policy.”

The comments were submitted as part of the FTC and DOJ’s process of seeking stakeholder input in revamping guidelines for merger enforcement. NGA also weighed in during the FTC and DOJ listening session on March 17 that focused on the food and agriculture sectors. NGA members Tom Charley, co-owner of Charley Family Shop N’ Save in Greensburg, Pa., and Anthony Pena, owner of City Supermarkets located in Norwalk, Conn., provided their personal stories about how consolidation in the food retail marketplace has harmed their ability to compete in a market dominated by mega-retailers.  

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