The Federal Trade Commission voted to begin a 6(b) study on the impact of competition on supply chain disruptions
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) vote to launch a 6(b) study on supply chain disruptions related to competition, shortages, and consumer prices, the National Grocers Association (NGA), which represents the independent supermarket industry and its wholesalers, released the following statement from Chris Jones, NGA Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Counsel:
“This study is a key first step in promoting competition in the food supply chain and we were pleased to see the FTC move forward with a unanimous vote. It will shine a light on what our members already know: that dominant grocery power buyers are using their size to demand better terms, better prices, and better products from suppliers, leaving their competitors and American consumers to pay the bill. These actions leave independent grocers short-handed on key products their customers need and force small, independent grocers and their customers to bear a disproportionate burden of surging food price inflation during supply chain crunches.
“We look forward to helping the commission get to the truth so that it can soon rein in the destructive anticompetitive tactics that have been ignored by federal agencies for decades. The results of the study will have consequences for not only the grocery industry but the communities that so often rely on Main Street grocers for fresh produce, fair prices, and good jobs.”
The NGA recommended the commission undertake this study in a white paper in March as well as in a statement presented at an open FTC hearing in July. In October, NGA and other members of the Main Street Competition Coalition recommended that the FTC investigate the effects of economic discrimination across multiple industries, from farming to pharmacies.
Independent grocery stores owners from across the country testified to the committee at an open meeting about how anti-competitive tactics by power buyers have hurt their businesses, customers, and communities. Commissioners voted 4 to 0 in favor of the study.
The study falls under the FTC’s investigative authority to conduct a study without a specific law enforcement purpose. Timely antitrust enforcement will be necessary to ensure a level playing field and prevent the largest chains from targeting their smaller rivals and depriving consumers of the benefits of competitive markets.