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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said yesterday that it is probing the reasons behind current supply chain issues and how they are creating "serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S. economy."

In doing so, USA Today reports, "The FTC said it is ordering Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, other large wholesalers and suppliers including Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods and Kraft Heinz Co. 'to turn over information to help study causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices.'  Orders also are being sent to C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and McLane Co, Inc."

Some context from the story:

"The companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond, the FTC said.

"Along with understanding the reasons behind the supply chain disruptions, the FTC’s study will examine 'whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices.'

"The FTC said the companies are required 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.'

"Companies also are required to provide the FTC with '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'."

KC's View:

It would seem that the current leadership at the FTC is inclined to accept the possibility that industry could have some culpability for price increases because of the ways in which they do business.  Which mans that the FTC may be drilling deeper and longer than in the past, especially because this is such a major source of consumer/citizen/voter discontent.