FTC Called In To Break Up Anti-Competitive Monopolies

(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- A group of independent businesses have come together to urge the Federal Trade Commission to start enforcing antitrust laws.

The coalition includes independent pharmacies, grocers, convenience stores, farmers and restaurants. The target of their ire are large companies such as Amazon and Walmart.

The group is officially called the Main Street Competition Coalition. They are arguing that some of the biggest suppliers and retailers are using tactics that are anti-competitive. In the process, they are preventing small businesses from having access to key services and goods, as well as certain markets, at a time when the supply chain is worsening.

Members of the coalition sent a letter to officials with the FTC this week that read:

“As a result of unprecedented levels of concentration, small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly subject to discriminatory terms and conditions, including less favorable pricing and price terms, less favorable supply, less favorable retail packaging, and sometimes an inability to access products in short supply that are available to their competitors.”

The coalition wants the FTC to enforce a law that is 85 years old called the Robinson-Patman Act. That law was passed to protect independent and small businesses from price discrimination.

A prominent member of the National Grocers Association, Chris Jones — who serves as their vice president of government affairs and counsel — commented:

“Robinson-Patman hasn’t been enforced in more than 20 years, and as a result, we’ve seen behavior in markets that favor the largest players and harm the smallest grocery stores and wholesalers.”

The group claims that the larger companies are using the leverage they have to secure prices that are lower than normal, while also getting “first dibs” on goods from various suppliers. They are also benefitting from obtaining exclusive products from suppliers that aren’t even available to their smaller competitors.

Many independent grocery stores have also been forced to sell during the pandemic to large competitors just so they can stock shelves with products. As Jones explained:

“What we’ve seen since the onset of the pandemic and the supply chain crunch is that the larger players are able to use their market power to secure priority delivery of products that are in short supply, which means the smaller competitors get shorted.”

The consolidation in these industries has had a huge effect on other businesses, such as farmers. Many independent farmers have said that as retail businesses have become more consolidated, they lose access to some customers.

One example of this happened in 2017, when Whole Foods was purchased by Amazon. Instead of relying on local, independent farmers, the new company opted for larger farm systems that could fulfill much larger orders.

The Organic Farmers Association’s policy director, Patty Lovera, explained:

“It’s really, really hard to be a big enough farm to sell to a big-box store. It’s much more conceivable that you could sell to an independent grocer in your area. That opportunity is diminishing in a lot of regions.”