WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an investigation into supply chain disruptions. As part of the FTC inquiry the agency ordered nine large retailers, wholesalers and consumer good suppliers to provide detailed information that will help the FTC shed light on the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how these disruptions impact consumers and competition in the United States.
Walmart Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Kroger Co., C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., McLane Co. Inc. Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods Inc., and Kraft Heinz Co., are subject to the orders. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond. The Commission vote to approve issuing the special orders was 4-0.
The FTC launched the study to better understand the reasons behind the disruptions and determine whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices.
The companies are required to:
detail the primary factors disrupting their ability to obtain, transport and distribute their products;
explain the impact these disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders, increased costs and prices;
provide the products, suppliers and inputs most affected; and
detail steps the companies are taking to alleviate disruptions, and how they allocate products among their stores when they are in short supply.
The companies must provide internal documents regarding the supply chain disruptions, including strategies related to supply chains; pricing; marketing and promotions; costs, profit margins and sales volumes; selection of suppliers and brands; and market shares.
“Supply chain disruptions are upending the provision and delivery of a wide array of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber. I am hopeful the FTC’s new 6(b) study will shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “The FTC has a long history of pursuing market studies to deepen our understanding of economic conditions and business conduct, and we should continue to make nimble and timely use of these information-gathering tools and authorities.”
FTC also is soliciting voluntary comments from retailers, consumer goods suppliers, wholesalers, and consumers regarding their views on how supply chain issues are affecting competition in consumer goods markets.