If Kroger and Albertsons merge, they’d create the biggest supermarket chain in the country and your sky-high grocery bill will get even higher. We already saw this happen 9 years ago, when Albertsons combined with Safeway. But this time, the government could stop it.
How did we get here?
A Kroger ad from 2019 showed cereal on sale for $2.49. Fast forward to October 2023, and that same cereal — the same size and everything — costs $2 more. That’s an 80% price hike in four years.
Americans are furious about food prices and looking for answers.
In the thick of all this inflation, Kroger management drops a bombshell: they want to buy Albertsons. Albertson’s agrees.
And just like that, the fourth-biggest grocer, is about to be swallowed up by number two. Over 20 different stores, like Smiths, Jewel, and Safeway, will all be part of one company.
There’s a reason people are concerned. 9 years ago the FTC, the agency in charge of reviewing mega-mergers, let Safeway and Albertsons combine. The agency had the new company sell some stores to keep local competition fair.
It’s the same promise Kroger is making today; the grocery giant will sell off a chunk of stores to keep the local market fair. It’s how the FTC manages most major monopoly power issues.
But back in 2019, that solution didn’t stick. Albertsons did sell off over 100 stores to a smaller company called Haggen. Haggen would later accuse Albertsons of sabotaging the deal by providing false price information. Within a year, Haggen was accused of violating union contracts and started closing stores. Not long after, they went bankrupt.
Who swooped into buy back some of the stores? Albertsons.
The looming Kroger and Albertsons merger could end differently. The Federal Trade Commission is now under the leadership of Lina Khan, and she’s been holding listening sessions with everyday people.
We don’t know for certain, but after holding listening sessions in three states the FTC appears likely to reject the merger.
Where are we now?
Executives are gearing up for a courtroom showdown to get the deal through. Meanwhile, the FTC is mulling over a game plan to block it.
This isn’t just about shareholders or executives—it’s bigger.
Are we okay with the idea of a few mega companies controlling our food? Or do we want an actual marketplace?