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Sherman A1

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Member since: Sat May 13, 2006, 07:37 AM
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Fighting the Big Grocery Monopoly

In March, the National Grocers Association (NGA), a trade association representing independent grocery stores, released a white paper detailing the ways dominant retailers abuse their market power over suppliers and marginalize small grocers. The pandemic exacerbated these abuses, the group argues, citing practices such as Big Box retailers demanding priority access to products in short supply, while smaller stores were frozen out. The group calls for enforcing antimonopoly laws, including the long-dormant Robinson-Patman Act, to address what it deems “economic discrimination.”

Passed in 1936, Robinson-Patman was intended to preserve the viability and diversity of smaller retailers by ensuring that the big chain stores did not engage in price discrimination and other unfair business practices. For example, it makes it illegal for suppliers to charge small retailers more than they charge the big chains for the same product.

The NGA argues that it is time to revive Robinson-Patman and other antimonopoly statutes. “The lack of antitrust enforcement has handicapped competition in the grocery sector and harmed American consumers,” said Chris Jones, NGA’s senior vice president of government relations. “Economic discrimination is, in fact, a problem that extends well beyond our industry … [We’re calling] on Congress and the federal government to modernize and enforce the antitrust laws.”

Smaller, family- or employee-owned grocery stores sell 25 percent of all groceries and play a unique role in the grocery market. According to the USDA, rural areas and low-income communities left behind by chain stores tend to rely more on these independent food retailers. New or local food suppliers may also get their start selling to independent grocers before growing into larger distribution, the NGA’s white paper argues.

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2021/05/13/fighting-the-big-grocery-monopoly
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