Bipartisan group of Alaska lawmakers urge Federal Trade Commission to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - On Monday, twenty-four members of the Alaska State Legislature wrote to Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, urging the federal government to block the Kroger-Albertsons grocery store merger.
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The $24.6 billion merger was first announced in the fall of 2022, and the Federal Trade Commission is currently evaluating the proposed sale. Last month, a spokesperson from Kroger announced they would close 14 stores throughout Alaska, leaving thousands of Alaskans unsure about the future of their employment, access to food supplies, and overall competitiveness to keep prices reasonable and low.

“Alaska is facing major uphill battles in recruiting and retaining skilled workers in all industries, while also struggling to keep residents in the state,” said Senator Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), Senate Majority Leader. “When you add on major store closures, decrease grocery options, and set the stage for antitrust practices in this state, it puts an additional strain on an economy that we are striving to improve for working Alaska families.”

In September, local labor unions came out to oppose the merger, citing store closures, job losses, and lower wages and job standards. Additionally, Congresswoman Mary Peltola wrote a letter last month to the Federal Trade Commission calling on them to block the merger because of Alaska’s food security concerns. In Addition, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan also wrote a letter to Chair Khan on September 22 expressing their concerns about the possible merger, signaling that Alaskans are united on this matter.

“One of the basic functions of government is to provide opportunities and paths for success. We hope that Chair Khan and the Commission will embrace this fundamental value while considering the proposed merger and think about the impact to the Alaska economy and its citizens – from food security to quality employment where Alaskans can earn a living wage,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). “We see no benefit to the residents of the state of Alaska with this merger, only increased hurdles.”

While acknowledging Kroger’s efforts to find a qualified buyer for closed stores, the letter references Alaska’s history with corporate mergers: “…Alaskans are leery, having already experienced prior grocery store mergers. In the late 1990s, Safeway purchased all locally owned Carrs grocery stores in the state, and despite the promise of continued employment and increased competition, they soon left the state. Alaska Marketplace purchased those closed stores and began business as a competitor to Safeway, but within a short period of time, the company closed, leaving many communities without competition.”

“Alaska is unique, and decisions made at the highest level can always be felt directly and harshly by Alaskans if our concerns are not taken into consideration. Alaska already has some of the highest food prices in the nation, especially when you consider many urban and rural areas are only accessed by air or water. This potential merger has the very real possibility to exacerbate this circumstance,” concluded Sen. Giessel

It is unknown when the Federal Trade Commission will issue a ruling on the merger.