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Rep. Gallego sends letter to FTC opposing Kroger-Albertsons grocery merger

Frys fry's
Posted at 10:15 AM, Aug 23, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday opposing Kroger Company’s acquisition of Albertsons Companies, Inc.

Gallego expressed concern in the letter, according to press materials, that “large chains like the proposed Kroger-Albertsons conglomerate could monopolize entire regions of Arizona, then raise prices, close store fronts, and eliminate jobs.”

The concern is amplified in areas like Cochise County, where grocery stores are few and far between.

Albertsons owns the Safeway brand, with four stores in Cochise County; in Willcox, Benson, Sierra Vista and Bisbee. Kroger, which owns the Fry’s grocery chain, has one store in Sierra Vista.

Gallego points out in the letter that there is a 25-mile stretch of Cochise County with no supermarkets at all. For those cities and towns with their own Fry's or Safeway, the stores play several essential roles.

“For many communities, supermarkets are the largest employers, the main pharmacy, and the only consistent source of nutritious food,” Gallego said in the letter. “For seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, the shuttering of the local supermarket can be disastrous.”

The proposed merger has drawn concern from Cochise County mayors.

Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge said in press materials that he could not support the merger without “a fully in-depth study and commitment to the potential impact it would have on the only grocery store in Bisbee.”

“If the FTC requires concessions from Kroger, those unknowns are too great,” Budge said. “Bigger is not always better, especially in rural Southern Arizona.”

Douglas Mayor Donald Huish saw the impact first-hand when Food City/Bashas merged with Raley’s in 2021, resulting in the city's only dedicated grocery store, a Food City, to shut its doors.

“We are still struggling to replace and attract a grocery store to Douglas,” Huish said in press materials. “While monopolization is another impact, it is necessary to also consider all impacts to smaller cities and the impacts to our local economy.”

Attorney General Kris Mayes is in the process of visiting communities to discuss the local impacts the potential merger could have. Read previous coverage: