Washington state is suing to block the proposed $25 billion merger between supermarket chains Kroger and Albertsons, warning that if approved it could raise prices and harm consumers.
In a suit filed Monday by the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson, his reasons for opposing the merger are because it would “severely limit” grocery store options for Washington residents and “eliminate vital competition” among the brands.
“This merger is bad for Washington shoppers and workers,” Ferguson said. “Shoppers will have fewer choices and less competition, and, without a competitive marketplace, they will pay higher prices at the grocery store.”
Ferguson also said the proposal by Kroger and Albertsons to divest hundreds of stores to get federal approval, which include more than 100 in Washington, “does not change the fact that Kroger would still enjoy a near-monopoly in many markets in the state.”
In response, a spokesperson for both grocers said they were “disappointed in Attorney General Ferguson’s premature decision to file a lawsuit while the merger is still under regulatory review.”
“The merging parties will vigorously defend this in court because we care deeply about our customers and the communities we serve, and this merger will result in the best outcomes for Washington consumers,” Kroger and Albertsons said.
Kroger announced it was buying Albertsons in 2022 with the transaction expecting to close later this year, depending on regulatory approval. But it has met with opposition on multiple fronts.
If merged, the two companies would have a combined 710,000 workers — most of them unionized in an industry with low union rates — nearly 5,000 stores and more than $200 billion in sales. The companies say they will reach 85 million households.