Meeting Between Independent Grocer and Congressman Highlights the Importance of Competition in the Grocery Industry

October 15, 2021

By Eric Payne, NGA Manager of Communications

For much of the year, NGA has been laser focused on ending anti-competitive food tactics by dominant food retailers, urging Congress to investigate and regulators to enforce existing laws on the books. This has always been an issue that has negatively impacted community-based independent grocers; however, the problem became even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as independents were forced to pay higher prices for fewer product offerings. An example of this is how some big box stores pressure suppliers until they refuse to sell the same products or same package sizes to independent grocers.

With this issue greatly impacting many NGA members, our Government Relations team has been working tirelessly in Washington D.C. urging regulators and lawmakers to take meaningful action. These D.C. decision makers need to see firsthand how not enforcing antitrust laws is negatively impacting grocers and their customers. With that in mind, NGA set up a meeting between Representative David Cicilline (RI-1) and Dave’s Market of Smithfield, Rhode Island. This meeting was even more significant than other Congressional store tours because Cicilline serves as Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law – a decision maker that has been an advocate for improving antitrust regulation across many industries.

During the visit, Cicilline and Dave’s Market owner Bob Fabiano, discussed how anticompetitive tactics by power buyers in the grocery marketplace create an uneven playing field for store owners. They also discussed solutions, such as increased oversight by the FTC and enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act, a law originally created to prevent economic discrimination.

This meeting is an important step to achieving our goals. If you’re interested in setting up a store tour with NGA to discuss this – or another important issue – with your representative, contact NGA Manager of Grassroots and PAC, Terence Huie, at thuie@nationalgrocers.org.