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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kroger-Albertsons mega-merger would cause grocery price hikes, FTC says, in suit to block deal

A produce clerk at Ralphs supermarket restocks produce at the store in San Diego, Calif. on March 19, 2020.  (Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
By Suhauna Hussain Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday sued to block the merger of two of the nation’s largest grocers.

The regulatory agency alleges that Kroger’s proposed $24.6-billion acquisition of Albertsons – the largest proposed supermarket merger in United States history – will obliterate competition between the major grocers, leading to higher prices and lower quality products for millions of Americans. The merger would also hurt workers, the agency said, eliminating their ability to negotiate for higher wages and better benefits.

The proposed deal, announced in October 2022, would bring together Kroger’s collection of supermarkets, including the Ralphs chain, with Albertsons roster, including Vons and Safeway.

“This supermarket mega merger comes as American consumers have seen the cost of groceries rise steadily over the past few years,” said Henry Liu, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition in a news release. “Essential grocery store workers would also suffer under this deal, facing the threat of their wages dwindling, benefits diminishing, and their working conditions deteriorating.”

Both companies, in response to the FTC announcement, said that they “look forward to litigating this action in court.”

Kroger said in a news release that it has “reduced prices every year since 2003.”

Blocking the merger “will actually harm the very people the FTC purports to serve: America’s consumers and workers,” the company said.

“Kroger has a proven track record of lowering prices so more customers benefit from fresh, affordable food, and our proposed merger with Albertsons will mean even lower prices and more choices for America’s consumers,” the company said.

Similar legal action is planned from California, with the state attorney general announcing in October that it was preparing a lawsuit to block the merger.