MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Lawmaker: High grocery prices due to ‘Corporate Greed’

Jun 20, 2024, 1:39 PM | Updated: 1:42 pm

Grocery prices...

Grocery prices remain high despite an easing of supply chain issues. (AP Photo/Allison Dinner)

(AP Photo/Allison Dinner)

Post-pandemic inflation remains stubbornly high. To many Americans, that’s painfully obvious at the grocery store, but are the stores themselves to blame?

Washington Congresswoman Kim Schrier says the high prices are due to one thing: “corporate greed.”

Schrier, who represents the 8th Congressional District, said pandemic era supply chain problems have long since subsided.

“They’re just keeping prices high because they can,” she insisted. Schrier predicts prices will rise even higher if the proposed merger goes through between Kroger – which owns Fred Meyer and QFC and Albertsons, which operates Safeway.

“I am just fiercely fighting against this proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons, which will take away competition and jack up prices even more.”

Related news: Kroger, Albertsons alter their merger plans, include Haggen in new deal

Nine state attorneys general – including Washington’s – and the Federal Trade Commission are concerned about that, too.

They’re suing to stop the $24.6B merger between the two large grocery store chains.

Schrier said the central Washington farmers that she represents sell products to those stores, and she claims, “One of those two – which I will not name – is the one that pays the least to the farmers in my district.”

When pressed by KIRO Newsradio’s Heather Bosch to name-names, Schrier answered, “You got it. Kroger low-balls farmers. Albertsons has higher prices.”

Schrier said she fears farmers will end up being paid less, overall, if the Kroger Albertsons merger goes through and that shoppers will end up paying more.

“I am in touch with the FTC and have advocated and made my views very clear about what that would mean for consumers and for farmers in Washington State.”

Asked if the FTC has a case, she replied, “I absolutely believe so.”

To ease anti-trust concerns, the combined companies say they plan to sell 579 stores across several states, letting go of the most in Washington State: 124. They say that will lead to continued healthy competition.

Kroger and Albertsons have repeatedly said that they need to join forces in order to compete with companies like Amazon, Walmart and Costco.

The companies also claim the merger would lower consumer prices and protect union jobs.

When asked specifically by KIRO Newsradio about the impact of the merger on farmers, Kroger said in a statement:

We pursued this merger because of the benefits it will provide for all of our stakeholders, including the farmers and suppliers. In fact, we committed to increasing the number of local products in our stores by 10% following completion of the merger.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Lawmaker: High grocery prices due to ‘Corporate Greed’