By DON McINTOSH
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a state court lawsuit Jan. 15 to block the proposed Kroger-Albertsons grocery merger, arguing that it will severely limit shopping options for consumers and eliminate competition that keeps grocery prices low.
Kroger and Albertsons are the two largest supermarket chains in Washington and the second and fourth largest in the country. More than half of Washington supermarkets are currently owned by either Kroger (which owns QFC and Fred Meyer) or Albertsons (which owns Safeway and Haggen). The merger would eliminate head-to-head competition. Right now, the supermarkets monitor each other’s prices and adjust the cost of products as part of that competitive relationship.
Ferguson’s lawsuit asks the court to find that the merger violates Washington antitrust law, and to issue an injunction permanently blocking the merger nationwide.
MORE: Read the AG’s announcement, which goes into detail about the reasons for the lawsuit.