NGA Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Case That Examines Confidential Business Information

April 22, 2019

Arlington, VA – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, today issued the following statement from NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin following the oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court case that examined whether store-level SNAP sales data is considered confidential and therefore protected from public dissemination.

“Store-level sales data from SNAP or any other transaction is confidential information. NGA has long maintained that a retailer’s SNAP store data should remain private as the data contains confidential store sales information that could be used by competitors to target and harm local, community-based supermarkets. The supermarket industry is highly competitive and any public disclosure of this sales information could give competitors an unfair advantage, particularly over many small and medium size grocers, as well as stigmatize stores that serve low income communities.”

In August 2011 the Argus Leader sued USDA for annual SNAP store sales data after USDA denied a Freedom of Information Act request for the data. In May of 2016, Larkin testified on behalf of USDA as a supermarket expert and representative of the independent supermarket industry in the case. Additionally, in 2017 NGA filed an amicus brief in FMI’s appeal of the District Court’s ruling in favor of the Argus Leader. NGA strongly supports the continued adherence to USDA’s policy, adopted in 1978, that prohibited the disclosure of sales / redemption information submitted by retailers except for purposes directly connected with the administration and enforcement of the Food Stamp Act (now Food and Nutrition Act).