by W.R. Hothersall
The seemingly imminent merger of the Kroger and Albertsons grocery giants has recently gained momentum with their joint agreement to sell over 400 stores for a total of around $1.9 billion to C&S Wholesale, a wholesale grocery supply company based in New Hampshire. These corporations plainly admit the grim reality that they feel such a merger is necessitated by their need “to compete with Walmart, Amazon, and other major companies that have stepped into the grocery business.”
As was reported in February of this year in New Spark, this push from Kroger and Albertsons toward their monopolization of the grocery market is focused in western states like Washington and Oregon. C&S Wholesale is based primarily in eastern states such as Pennsylvania and Florida.
The sale of these stores to other business entities, of course, is done only to meet whatever governmental regulations are intended to inhibit the most egregious manifestations of the inherent capitalistic tendency toward monopolization. Within the existing economic conditions, both corporations have concluded that they will reap a higher rate of profit by combining their forces to compete with the other premiere grocery monopolies.
Aldi, a Midwest-based discount grocer seeking to ensure their section of the current re-division of the grocery market spoils, recently announced its plan to acquire 400 stores largely concentrated in the southern U.S. All of the stores that Kroger is selling are being done to win the favor of Federal Trade Commission regulators whose Sisyphean task it is to ensure “free” and “healthy” competition under capitalism. Such a merger should concern all those worried about rising prices in the grocery industry and its subsequent effects on workers and regional and local working-class communities.
As capitalist companies can do nothing other than beat to the heart of profit, it must be understood that this $1.9 billion sale to C&S Wholesale would not have been done if Kroger had not expected to increase their rate of profit following the completion of this merger. This geographic concentration shift westward will almost certainly make more working-class people in the western U.S. dependent on Kroger & Albertsons and their subsidiaries for their grocery needs, with those in the eastern U.S. likely becoming more dependent on C&S Wholesale and its subsidiaries, such as Target and Safeway.
Like a boa constrictor, this merger and its ramifications will slowly squeeze local communities for all the purchasing power that they have, as workers will have nothing but their collective organizing power to try to keep food prices affordable. This also negatively affects workers of all these various grocery chains, as vendors with less regional competition have more resources for profit-seeking ventures like running interference for union-organizing efforts (only about 2/3rds of the Kroger stores in the U.S. are unionized) and placating non-militant workers with crumb-type “benefits.”
In the midst of this monopolization surge in the grocery industry, multiple lawsuits have been filed against Kroger for allegedly failing “to monitor suspicious orders of addictive pain pills that fueled the nation’s opioid crisis.” Such allegations flatly contradict Kroger’s assertion that they have “long served as a leader in combatting opioid abuse.”
Kroger is a Cincinnati-based vendor located in the geographic heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic near states like West Virginia and Kentucky, making it a prime suspect for the mass overprescription and distribution of opioids that have been forced upon working-class communities concentrated in the midwestern U.S. since around the 1990s.
New Spark will continue to follow and report on this story and its dire consequences for grocery employees and working-class communities.
 Michelle Chapman, “Kroger and Albertsons sell hundreds of stores in a bid to clear merger of the 2 largest US groceries,” The Associated Press, September 8, 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/kroger-albertsons-selling-more-than-400-stores-in-19b-deal-as-they-lookto-close-their-merger/ar-AA1gr2b6.
 “Kroger and Albertsons sell hundreds of stores in a bid to clear merger of the 2 largest US groceries.”
 W.R. Hothersall, “Potential Kroger-Albertson’s Merger Threatens Workers & Unions,” New Spark, February 21, 2023, https://newspark.news/current-events/potential-kroger-albertsons-merger-threatens-workers-unions/.
 United Food and Commercial Workers, “Korger Union,” accessed September 9, 2023, https://www.ufcw.org/actions/campaign/kroger-union/.
 David Ovalle, “Kroger grocery chain to pay $1.2 billion to settle opioid lawsuits,” The Associated Press, September 8, 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/kroger-grocery-chain-to-pay-12-billion-to-settle-opioid-lawsuits/ar-AA1gry8K#image=1.
 Terry DeMio & Alexander Coolidge, “Kroger agrees to pay $1.2B to settle state and local litigation over opioid epidemic,” Cincinnati Enquirer, September 8, 2023, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2023/09/08/kroger-to-pay-1-2b-to-settle-opioid-lawsuits/70794512007/.