By Mark Moran - Producer-Editor, Contact - News



Big Sky Connection - One of America's largest farm groups points to the latest Federal Trade Commission report that shows the country's biggest corporate food companies have been gouging consumers on prices since the pandemic, even though the supply chain disruptions have largely abated. Companies say they are facing competitive and regulatory pressures driving up prices and fees. Comments from Angela Huffman, executive director, Farm Action.

Click on the image above for the audio. Corporate grocery chains raised prices well above what was necessary during the pandemic, and continue to do so today, according to a report by the Federal Trade Commission. (Adobe Stock)

Mark Moran

May 13, 2024 - The latest report from the Federal Trade Commission says despite an easing of pandemic related supply chains and economic stressors, major grocers across the country are still overcharging people for groceries - including in Montana.

Farm Action Executive Director Angela Huffman said three of the country's largest food suppliers did not reduce their profit margins when COVID supply-chain issues eased - which would have made groceries easier, and presumably cheaper, to get.

"That's Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon," said Huffman. "They took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to reap excessive profits and gain more market power."

The FTC report shows the average large retailer's revenue's were 6% higher than their total costs in 2021, and then jumped to 7% - even after the pandemic supply chain disruptions eased.

Montanans spend and average of $246 a week on groceries. That's 40th highest in the nation, but prices rose well above profits in Montana, too.

Grocers have blamed competitive pressure and higher fees for the price hikes.

Huffman agreed that America runs on profitable companies, including in the farm sector.

But she contended, with the FTC report as evidence, that the grocery conglomerates were - and still are - going well above what is fair to U.S. consumers under the guise of being forced to react to a crisis.

"But what these companies did is use the pandemic as an excuse to exploit the American people who needed to put food on their tables," said Huffman. "And the FTC report shows that they're still doing it now, here in 2024."

Huffman argued the dominant firms also blamed supply-chain disruptions to raise prices higher than necessary and increase profit margins on fertilizer, meat and eggs in recent years.

Best Practices