Washington, D.C. – NGA member and CEO of Fresh Encounter Inc., Michael Needler Jr., a third-generation independent grocer who operates nearly 100 grocery stores in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Florida, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights on the effect of enhanced consolidation and buyer power in the marketplace.
In the hearing, titled “Examining the Competitive Impact of the Proposed Kroger-Albertsons Transaction,” Needler provided the committee with the independent grocer perspective on competition in the grocery sector and the potential impact of the Kroger-Albertsons merger.
“Our view is this: America’s grocery sector is getting less competitive from increasing concentration and unchecked buyer power due to a lack of enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act,” Needler shared in his opening statement. “Let me clear: we are agnostic on this transaction. We are not afraid to compete against anyone, no matter how big. What we oppose is the lack of constraints on buyer power which thwarts our ability to compete in the first place.”
Increased consolidation and economic discrimination in the grocery industry is a growing problem across America’s food supply chain. Today, a small handful of firms wield unprecedented economic power over food processing, meat packing, and retail. These firms use their economic power to disadvantage smaller competitors and dictate terms from suppliers to provide lower prices and more favorable supply terms, special package offerings and product availability, leaving independent grocers to pay the price.
“America’s independent grocers and wholesalers are the backbone of their communities, providing access to nutritious food, essential services, and local jobs. In towns across the nation, independent grocers strive to compete on price, quality, service, convenience and product variety,” said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara. “However, lack of antitrust enforcement has allowed for the creation of a new generation of power buyers, and enhanced levels of concentration in the grocery retailing marketplace. Without enforcement of antitrust laws like the Robinson-Patman Act, power buyers will continue to engage in this cycle of anticompetitive behavior, harming competition within the industry and consumers.”
“In addition to enforcing the Robinson-Patman Act, we strongly urge policymakers on Capitol Hill and at the FTC to rigorously examine the proposed divestitures of this merger to preserve competition in local marketplaces,” Ferrara continued.
NGA represents more than 1,800 independent grocery retailers who account for nearly 9,000 store fronts across the country, including at least one in every congressional district. These stores and their wholesaler distributors play a crucial role in American communities. They compete to offer low prices, higher food quality, better service, more accessible and convenient locations, a greater variety of products, and good jobs.
Additional Media Resources
Click here to read Needler’s testimony.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.