The proposed megamerger could raise grocery prices. Reduced competition could also mean lower payments for locally grown crops.
by Patrick Cooley, The Messenger
As consumer advocates decry the proposed $24.6 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons for its potential to quash competition and increase food prices, small farmers are raising alarms about its impact on the little guy.
Some suppliers who ensure that the produce shelves inside Kroger and Albertsons stores are full of fresh locally sourced fruits and vegetables worry that the single buyer resulting from the proposed deal will decrease their bargaining power and push down profits.
Many farmers and the organizations that represent small growers were reluctant to comment for this article, concerned about antagonizing two gargantuan produce buyers, but those who did are worried.
“I already see too many of these chain stores telling us what they’re going to pay,” said Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association. “I don’t see a merger like this reducing that pressure.”
“You can predict there could be downward pressure” on prices paid to suppliers, said Norbert Wilson, a professor of agricultural economics at Duke.