For Immediate Release
Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, email@example.com
Food & Water Watch Blasts Approval of Biggest Supermarket Merger
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
WASHINGTON - “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) put the food industry ahead of consumers by refusing to block the biggest supermarket merger in history. The FTC allowed the Albertsons-Safeway merger to go through almost completely unobstructed after the chains divested a paltry number of grocery stores in a handful of cities. The merger creates the third largest grocery retailer (behind Walmart and Kroger) and leaves supermarket shoppers vulnerable to price gouging.
“The FT approved a divestiture plan that is simply inadequate to protect consumers. It largely permits supermarkets to tighten their stranglehold on consumers at a time of rising grocery prices and stagnant wages. Albertsons and Safeway agreed to shed a modest 7 percent of their combined 2,400 stores. The FTC did not require the chains to divest a single store in twenty metropolitan areas where the merger combined local rivals. In these markets, the four largest retailers will sell two-thirds of all groceries, and 12 million consumers will face higher prices and reduced choices.
“Even in the areas where stores will be sold, the divestiture plan is unlikely to protect consumers. The merger entrenches Albertsons as the biggest grocer in 13 markets and the second biggest in six more, controlling about one-fifth of grocery sales, according to figures from Deutsche Bank.
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“The FTC should have blocked this supermarket mega-merger. Unfortunately, the FTC abandoned its mission to protect consumers and allowed continued consolidation of the grocery industry, increasing the power these grocery store goliaths have over consumers and their food. By failing to decisively break up the Albertsons-Safeway merger, the FTC is only encouraging a further cascade of supermarket mergers. Unless the Obama administration stands up to this merger-mania, the supermarket monopoly will tighten its grip on consumers.”
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