The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Monday it is conducting a study into the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions that could be leading to anticompetitive practices and consumer hardships.
As part of the agency’s study, nine large retailers, wholesalers, and consumer goods suppliers are being ordered to provide a wide range of information to help shed light on the issue. Requests are being sent to Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Associated Wholesale Grocers, McLane, Procter & Gamble, Tyson Foods, and Kraft Heinz. These companies have 45 days from the date they receive the FTC’s order to respond.
“The orders require the companies to detail the primary factors disrupting their ability to obtain, transport, and distribute their products; the impact these disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders, increased costs and prices; the products, suppliers, and inputs most affected; and the steps the companies are taking to alleviate disruptions; and how they allocate products among their stores when they are in short supply,” the FTC said.
The companies must also provide internal documents regarding the 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,” the FTC said.
The orders are being issued by a 4-0 commissioner vote under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the agency to conduct studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.
“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,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan in a press release. “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.”
Additionally, the agency said it’s soliciting voluntary comments from businesses and customers regarding how supply chain issues are affecting competition in consumer goods markets.