US senator Elizabeth Warren calls out grocery chains for raising prices

Published on
December 27, 2021
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has criticized the nation’s largest grocery chains for raising food prices during the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time as their executives and shareholders receive big payouts.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has criticized the nation’s largest grocery chains for raising food prices during the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time as their executives and shareholders receive big payouts.

Warren sent letters to the CEOs of Kroger, Albertsons, and Publix, each of which has reported increased profits and net income compared to pre-pandemic levels, Warren said in a press release.

“Large grocers are blaming high food costs on inflation, but it’s time to talk about how they’re using every opportunity to rake in profits [and] reward executives and big shareholders while driving up prices even more,” Warren said in a press release. “These companies made record profits during the pandemic and when faced with the choice to retain lower prices for consumers and properly protect and compensate their workers, they greedily granted massive payouts to top executives and investors.”

Now, the grocery chains are “pushing grocery cost increases onto consumers, blaming it on inflation, and lining the pockets of executives and investors,” Warren said.

Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told investors “a little bit of inflation is always good in our business,” according to the press release.

“Kroger and Albertsons have meanwhile padded their bottom line even more by depriving frontline workers of hazard pay and failing to adopt necessary workplace safety precautions,” Warren said.

FMI - The Food Industry Association said in a statement to SeafoodSource that current price increases are due to a combination of supply chain challenges – from labor and transportation shortages to higher fuel costs and increased consumer demand.

“Grocers are doing everything they can to absorb these cost increases, and we ask consumers to continue working with us as we recalibrate our supply chains,” FMI said.

Despite concerns about inflation, average household grocery spending has held steady at an average of USD 144 (EUR 127) per week over the past year, a decrease from USD 142 per week at the height of the pandemic, FMI noted.

“[This is] proving America’s consumers are remarkably resourceful and resilient," FMI said.

Warren is asking the CEOs to answer for their companies' decisions during the pandemic by 7 January, 2022. 

Photo courtesy of Rich Koele/Shutterstock

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