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Independent Grocers Fly In Formation, Voices United For Fair Competition

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Greg Ferrara

NGA takes pride in representing the independent grocery industry and is honored to speak in the halls of power in Washington on behalf of retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. As a generator of tax revenue and jobs while helping to feed this great nation, the industry must remind policymakers how important it is to Main Street America.

But as highly as we regard that duty to members, it’s still important for individual members to be a hands-on part of that process. Your voice matters and the folks on Capitol Hill need to hear it. And after a pandemic full of virtual meetings, it’s time to start being heard face to face once again.

In just the past few years, NGA members have joined me in testifying before Congressional committees, raising our concerns over the growth and influence of power buyers in the marketplace. NGA members have shared their perspective with the Federal Trade Commission, urging the panel to revive and enforce the Robinson-Patman Act, a law designed to create a level playing field for retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and consumers.  

The work that NGA is doing on antitrust is probably the most important issue we have taken on in decades, so now is not the time to sit on the sidelines.

That’s why we urge participation in NGA’s Fly-In for Fair Competition in June. Join other independent retailers, wholesalers and state association executives in Washington, D.C., to take the message to Capitol Hill. Meet with representatives in Congress to discuss the pressing issues that are affecting business and impacting the policymaking process.

Front and center right now for independent operators is the campaign to revive enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act, and NGA members have been busy bringing Main Street’s story to Washington. 

In late March, two retailers testified before the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division on how anticompetitive tactics by dominant retailers in the grocery marketplace lead to unfair conditions for independent grocers.

Tom Charley, co-owner of Charley Family Shop N’ Save in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Anthony Pena, owner of City Supermarkets in Norwalk, Connecticut, commented on how consolidation in the food retail marketplace has resulted in unchecked buyer power in which a few dominant firms are able to set favorable terms, prices and product allocation for themselves. These discriminatory tactics are prohibited but antitrust laws have not been enforced in decades.

“Independent grocers don’t shy away from a challenge. But I want to address a challenge that’s gotten bigger over the years. That’s a few enormous, dominant retailers using their power to get around the rules designed to protect competition,” said Charley, a fourth-generation retailer.

Pena, a second-generation supermarket operator, described how each of his stores is tailored to the communities it serves. While urging the FTC to set a level playing field, he said, “You should look at service. You should look at accessibility and the convenience of locations.”

This forum, which focused on food and agriculture, was held as part of a series hosted by the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice to hear from those who have experienced firsthand the effects of mergers and acquisitions. 

NGA has an incredible opportunity to move this discussion forward with a goal of seeing these laws enforced once again for the benefit of consumers as well as independent grocers.

For those attending the June fly-in, NGA’s Government Relations team will schedule the Congressional meetings, pairing NGA members and experienced advocates; offer briefing materials and meeting tips; and provide opportunities outside of the scheduled meetings to interact with lawmakers and their staffs.

Let your voice be heard. We look forward to seeing everyone in Washington on June 7-8 and helping to bring the message to the folks in Congress. 

For more information, visit nationalgrocers.org.

About the author

Greg Ferrara

President and CEO of NGA

Greg Ferrara is the president and CEO of the National Grocers Association is the trade association representing the U.S. independent community supermarket industry. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers.

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