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FTC report exposes Kroger and Walmart’s price hikes amid pandemic

Americans of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity report the highest average weekly spending on groceries, at $325.67 per week.
JackF - stock.adobe.com
Americans of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity report the highest average weekly spending on groceries, at $325.67 per week.

Consumer groups are claiming big grocery retailers such as Kroger and Walmart have been unfairly raising prices, both during the pandemic and now. The allegation of corporate greed comes after a new report from the Federal Trade Commission found profits for grocery chains jumped sharply at rates that supply-chain disruptions could not justify.

Angela Huffman is president of the nonprofit Farm Action.

"It's one thing to raise your prices to cover higher expenses, but what these companies did is use the pandemic as an excuse to exploit the American people who needed to put food on their tables. And the FTC report shows that they're still doing it, here in 2024," she said.

The report found that retailer profits rose to 6% over total costs in 2021, and 7% in the first three quarters of 2023 - compared with 5.6% in 2015. Arkansas households' weekly groceries cost about $260, which is below the national average of $270, according to a Help Advisor report.

Huffman thinks the feds should take anti-trust action to increase competition - and consider forcing the grocery behemoths to break up.

"That would be the ideal outcome, is to take away their excessive power. But other than that, these companies can be fined for this kind of price gouging. And that's another action we would support. There needs to be some kind of consequences," Huffman argued.

The FTC staff report recommends "further inquiry by the commission and policymakers," but doesn't propose specific remedies.

Danielle M. Smith is an award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media. Smith is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks. She is currently joining PNS as a producer. She also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on Power 1360 WGBN AM 1360 & 98.9FM in Pittsburgh, PA. Smith sits on the Communications board for the Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti 501 ©(3). Smith recently took a leap of faith and relocated to Nashville TN.
A statewide non-profit news service for Arkansas. Based in Little Rock as a bureau of the Public News Service.