Kroger and Albertsons grocery stores to merge, but not everyone is happy

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Grocery stores in the United States could be about to undergo a drastic change. Kroger has announcement plans to buy Albertsons in a deal he says will total nearly $25 billion.

The deal, which is expected to close in 2024, would bring together two of the nation’s largest grocery chains, in addition to creating one of the nation’s largest private employers. Together, the stores total about 710,000 employees, most of whom are unionized at the roughly 5,000 grocery stores combined, according to the company. The combined company would also control 66 distribution centers, 52 manufacturing plants, nearly 4,000 pharmacies and more than 2,000 fuel centers.

Kroger and Albertsons, recognizable grocery names in their own right, operate many other stores. The group of stores under the Kroger umbrella includes Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Dillons, Fred Meyer and others. Meanwhile, Albertsons stores include Safeway and Vons.

For context, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods was valued at $13.7 billion in 2017. This merger would make Kroger the second-largest grocery retailer in the United States with a 13.5% market share. , behind only Walmart’s 15.5%, per CNN.

“This merger advances our commitment to building a more equitable and sustainable food system by expanding our footprint into new geographies to serve more of America with fresh, affordable food and accelerates our position as an alternative more compelling to larger, non-union competitors,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in A declaration.

Consolidations have become familiar in the United States in recent years. CNN suggests that the massive scale of the combined companies would provide the buying capital to fend off other big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. CNN also cites increased competition from discount retailers and warehouses like Dollar General, Aldi and Costco. However, many believe the merger would be bad for consumers.

The deal is a long way off, and industry experts said there are big hurdles to clear when it comes to antitrust security. Some unions, Democrats and others have spoken out against the deal, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who called it “an absolute disaster.”

They argue that prices may ultimately rise due to the merger and that competition will be driven out of some markets. “There is no reason to allow two of the largest supermarket chains in the country to merge, especially with soaring food prices,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, a anti-monopoly organization. “With 60% of grocery sales concentrated in just 5 national chains, a Kroger-Albertons deal would squeeze consumers who are already struggling to afford food, crush workers fighting for fair wages and destroy stores. This merger is a dry case of monopoly power, and the authorities should block it.”

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