This mega-merger will bring change to grocery shoppers in eight states through a deal designed to preserve competitive pricing. Will it?
Grocery shoppers in eight states will soon see changes as Albertsons and Safeway sell 168 stores to win approval of their $9.8 billion supermarket sweep.
The Federal Trade Commission says the divestiture is necessary to keep supermarkets competitive in 130 communities affected by Safeway and Albertsons’ merger, which is expected to be completed by the end of January.
“Consumers everywhere rely on local supermarkets for their weekly shopping needs,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “Absent a remedy, this acquisition would likely lead to higher prices and lower quality for supermarket shoppers in 130 communities.”
The local markets affected are in Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
These companies may be familiar to you, even if their names are not. Albertson’s LLC operates 630 supermarkets under the Albertsons banner in 15 states, and under the Market Street, Amigos and United Supermarkets banners in Texas, the FTC says. New Albertson’s, Inc., operates 445 supermarkets under the Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s and Star Market banners in the East. Safeway operates 1,332 supermarkets under the Safeway, Tom Thumb, Randall’s, Pak ’n Save, The Market, Vons, Pavilions and Genuardi’s names throughout the country.
As detailed when the divestiture was proposed last fall to settle an FTC antitrust complaint about the merger, Bellingham, Washington-based Haggen Holdings will acquire 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc. will acquire two Albertsons stores in Washington and serve as primary grocery supplier to Haggen.
Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., based in Kansas City, Kansas, will acquire 12 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Texas. Associated Food Stores Inc. will acquire eight Albertsons and Safeway stores in Montana and Wyoming and is expected to assign operating rights to RLS Supermarkets, LLC (doing business as Minyard Food Stores.)
Associated Food Stores Inc. of Salt Lake City will acquire eight Montana and Wyoming stores that will be operated as Missoula Fresh Market LLC, Ridley’s Family Markets, Inc. and Stokes Inc.
What can customers expect?
Look for the same wide selections of the big chains, as well as the fresh, local and gourmet selections like a Whole Foods but at lower prices, analyst and Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert of Santa Monica recently told U-T San Diego.
Haggen’s produce supplier will be Charlie’s Produce, which told trade publication The Packer that it will open a division in Southern California to supply the new Southwest stores. It already has distribution centers in Seattle and Spokane, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and Anchorage and Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
Do you lean toward a particular grocery store chain, go wherever the prices are lowest, or opt for local and fresh? Let us know in the comments below or on our Money Talks News Facebook page.
Wherever you shop, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says you can likely stretch your grocery dollars. Watch the video below for tips.