FTC Eyes Retail Supply Chain
December 1, 2021
Orders Walmart, Amazon, Kroger
and other large wholesalers and suppliers to turn over information to help study
causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices
The Federal Trade Commission is
ordering nine large retailers, wholesalers, and consumer good suppliers to
provide detailed information that will help the FTC shed light on the causes
behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how these disruptions are causing
serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S.
The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which
authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a
specific law enforcement purpose. The orders are being sent to Walmart Inc.,
Amazon.com, Inc., Kroger Co., C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale
Grocers, Inc., McLane Co, Inc. Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., and
Kraft Heinz Co. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the
order to respond.
“Supply chain disruptions are upending the provision and delivery of a wide
array of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber. I
am hopeful the FTC’s new 6(b) study will shed light on market conditions and
business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric
effects,” said Chair Lina M. Khan. “The FTC has a long history of pursuing
market studies to deepen our understanding of economic conditions and business
conduct, and we should continue to make nimble and timely use of these
information-gathering tools and authorities.”
In addition to better understanding the reasons behind the disruptions, the
study will examine whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific
bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising
orders require the companies to detail the primary factors disrupting their
ability to obtain, transport and distribute their products; the impact these
disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders, increased costs
and prices; the products, suppliers and inputs most affected; and the steps the
companies are taking to alleviate disruptions; and how they allocate products
among their stores when they are in short supply.
The FTC also is requiring the companies to provide internal documents regarding
the supply chain disruptions, including strategies related to supply chains;
pricing; marketing and promotions; costs, profit margins and sales volumes;
selection of suppliers and brands; and market shares.
In addition, the agency is soliciting voluntary comments from retailers,
consumer goods suppliers, wholesalers, and consumers regarding their views on
how supply chain issues are affecting competition in consumer goods markets.
These comments provide an opportunity for market participants to surface
additional issues and examples of how supply chain disruptions are affecting
The Commission vote to approve issuing the Special Orders was 4-0.