ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona investigates Kroger-Albertsons merger, cites antitrust concerns

Feb 17, 2023, 2:00 PM

(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona launched an antitrust investigation into the proposed merger between the parent company of Fry’s Food and Albertsons, state officials said Thursday.

Kroger and Albertsons, which includes Safeway, announced plans to combine operations last October. The grocery chains run more than 250 stores in Arizona and employ more than 35,000.

State Attorney General Kris Mayes said the $24.6 billion merger could be damaging to Arizona.

“In addition to skyrocketing prices, the proposed merger raises questions about the potential for store closures that could force consumers to travel farther for groceries – possibly creating food deserts that disproportionately affect minority communities,” Mayes said in a press release.

Albertsons and Kroger said at the time of the announcement joining forces would help them better compete against Walmart, Amazon and other major companies that have stepped into the grocery business.

If approved by regulators, the deal is likely to close early next year.

“Thousands of employees will also wonder whether their jobs will still exist if the merger is finalized. And even if they remain employed, workers may have to worry whether their wages or benefits will decrease,” Mayes said.

“Farmers and ranchers also fear that a consolidated supermarket giant might wield unfair buying power that would force them out of business in favor of corporate producers. I will fight to ensure that Arizona consumers, workers, and local grocery producers are not harmed.”

The AG’s Office planned to host a series of listening sessions around the state in the coming weeks to gauge community reaction to the potential alliance of two of the nation’s largest grocers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona investigates Kroger-Albertsons merger, cites antitrust concerns