Top officials of seven states are pressing the Biden administration to prevent Kroger from buying Albertsons, adding another complication to the supermarket companies’ controversial effort to gain regulatory clearance for their plan to combine.
In a Wednesday letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, the secretaries of state of Colorado, Arizona, Vermont, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maine and New Mexico said the proposed merger would deprive consumers of grocery shopping options, reduce competition, and hurt suppliers and workers.
“It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that corporate monopolies do not cheat hardworking Americans into paying artificially high prices, so executives and shareholders can line their own pockets,” the officials wrote.
The secretaries of state, all of whom are Democrats, also contended in their letter that the merger would “put an even larger strain on American families who are already struggling to pay the bills and keep food on the table” because the grocers would be free to put their own interests first.
“Kroger-Albertsons will have no competitive incentive to bring down prices and — despite what Kroger-Albertsons’ claims — consumers will be powerless to hold the company accountable to promises of keeping prices low,” the state officials wrote.
Kroger and Albertsons have attracted substantial criticism since announcing their proposed merger last October, with opponents including politicians, consumer advocates and the National Grocers Association claiming that the combination would give the companies unfair marketplace advantages at the expense of shoppers, workers and suppliers.
“If the merger goes through, the lack of competition gives Kroger-Albertsons substantial power to dictate prices that harm growers and shippers who will be forced to cut wages for their own workers,” the officials said.
In a statement sent to Grocery Dive, a Kroger spokesperson disputed the contention by the secretaries of state that the merger would be harmful.
“Kroger joining with Albertsons will mean lower prices and more choices for more customers in more communities, higher wages and more industry-leading benefits for associates and growing union jobs. The only parties who would benefit if this merger is not completed are large, non-unionized competitors such as Walmart and Amazon,” the spokesperson said.