The US has an estimated shortage of 80,000 truck drivers © ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
The US has an estimated shortage of 80,000 truck drivers © ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Firms ordered to open books in probe into supply disruption

30 November 2021

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is ordering nine firms including Amazon and Walmart to release internal documents as a part of an investigation into supply chain disruptions.

The investigation will examine whether responses to supply disruptions are leading to anti-competitive practices and contributing to rising consumer prices.

The investigation aims to “shed light on the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how these disruptions are causing serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the US economy,” the FTC said.

Along with Walmart and Amazon, the FTC has ordered Procter & Gamble, Kroger, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Associated Wholesale Grocers, McLane, Tyson Foods, and Kraft Heinz to hand over documents.

The FTC is requiring the companies to provide internal documents covering supply chain strategies, pricing, marketing and promotions, costs, profit margins, sales volumes, selection of suppliers, brands, and market shares.

The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond.

Chair of the FTC Lina M. Khan said: “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.

“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.”

She said she was “hopeful” the study will highlight “market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects”.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden met retailers and grocers to discuss mitigating supply disruptions.

During the meeting Biden expressed optimism about the forthcoming holidays, saying compared with last year, Americans have “a little more hope”.

The meeting included CEOs from Samsung, Etsy, Mattel and Kroger.

Biden was initially scheduled to deliver remarks on what his administration was doing to “strengthen the nation’s supply chains, lower everyday costs for families, and ensure that shelves are well-stocked this holiday season,” following the meeting, the White House said on Monday morning.

However, those remarks were postponed as Biden “wanted to ensure ample time spent with the business leaders who traveled to the White House today”.

US supply chains have been hit by driver shortages and major congestion at the country’s ports, which have led to bottlenecks across America.

The American Truckers Association estimates the country has a shortage of 80,000 drivers.

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