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Democrats Push Biden to Investigate Possible Price-Fixing in Grocery Industry

Biden Urged to Launch Inquiry into Grocery Store Price-Gouging Practices

Senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic lawmakers want President Joe Biden to check if grocery stores are cheating with prices and to do something about food prices going up.

In a letter sent to the White House, the lawmakers cited a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report that found major grocery chains profited from supply chain disruptions during the pandemic by increasing prices.

The lawmakers proposed several measures, including encouraging the FTC to issue guidance on price discrimination laws and creating a joint task force to investigate food price manipulation. They also suggest leveraging antitrust laws to prevent dominant retailers from extracting favorable prices and terms from suppliers.

The letter highlights the need for regulatory intervention to level the playing field in the food and grocery sector, ensuring fair competition and affordable prices for consumers.

White House Pressured to Investigate Possible Anti-Competitive Practices in Grocery Sector

Studies have shown that corporate profits account for over 50% of current inflation, with four retailers – Walmart, Kroger, Costco, and Albertsons – controlling over a third of national grocery sales.

The lawmakers argue that dominant grocery firms may be employing exclusionary practices, such as slotting fees and rebates, which violate antitrust laws and regulations.

The lawmakers propose that the Biden Administration encourage the FTC to promulgate a rule aimed at prohibiting exclusionary contracting in the food industry and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take similar action under the Packers & Stockyards Act.

They also suggest creating a joint task force between the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the FTC to address anti-competitive behaviors and direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FTC to scrutinize and potentially block mergers and acquisitions in the food and agricultural sectors.

The White House has taken steps to lower grocery costs, including updating the Thrifty Food Plan and partnering with state attorneys general to address anticompetitive behavior and price gouging.

However, the lawmakers are urging Biden to take further action, using his executive authority to bypass Congress and address the rising cost of food and groceries, which remains a top concern for voters.

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