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U.S. FTC orders Walmart, Amazon to provide information in supply chain investigation


Signage is visible at the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, DC, USA, August 29, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (Reuters) – The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday announced it was investigating whether supply chain disruptions are hurting consumers with higher prices, and commissioned Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Amazon.com (AMZN.O) and other major food suppliers to give detailed information on the situation.

The objectives of the study will be to determine whether supply chain problems have led to particular bottlenecks, anti-competitive practices or higher prices, the agency said in a statement.

It comes as the Biden administration battles a spike in inflation as supply chain problems in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic drive up consumer prices.

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The National Grocers Association has also expressed concern that large retailers may have used their weight to force sellers to maintain supply, putting smaller competitors at a disadvantage.

At the White House, President Joe Biden met with CEOs of major retailers on Monday to discuss how to move merchandise to the shelves as the holiday shopping season in the United States begins in the shadow of the variant. of the Omicron coronavirus. Read more

The FTC said it is also requiring Kroger Co (KR.N), C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) unit McLane Co Inc, Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) , Tyson Foods (TSN.N) and Kraft Heinz (KHC.O) to provide information within 45 days of receipt of order.

FTC President Lina Khan said she hoped the study “would shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have exacerbated these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects.”

In its requests for information, the agency asked companies to detail what is behind the shortages they have experienced and what that means for them in terms of higher prices.

They also requested internal documents with strategies to maintain their supply chain and determine prices, as well as data on profit margin and market share.

The FTC approved the study in a bipartisan 4-0 vote.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz and Eric Beech; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Richard Pullin

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