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26 Feb 2024

USA: Supermarket giant Kroger fails to respond to human rights concerns or provide transparent information regarding upcoming merger with Albertsons

In January 2023, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to USA-headquartered supermarket giant over its upcoming USD25bn merger with Albertsons. The plans were first announced in 2022 and Kroger is expected to takeover ownership of Albertsons in early 2024; the proposed acquisition is currently under regulatory scrutiny.

According to Lever News, Kroger's citing of its relationships with a supplier accused of human trafficking spotlights its failure "to guarantee minimum standards for workers in its supply chain". The article also cites concerns from Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Domini Impact Investments regarding an alleged lack of protections, enforcement and remedy for workers in Kroger supply chains. The supermarket brand has long been encouraged to join CIW's Fair Food Program, a worker-driven initiative to put workers themselves at the centre of company due diligence, grievance mechanism and remedy processes. Additionally, critics have flagged the adverse impacts a merger would have regarding the creation of a grocery monopoly, leading to downwards pressure on wages and anticipated job loss from store closures.

As it is, Kroger is not doing what they should as a very powerful corporation. Imagine them as an even more powerful company [and] not using that power to grant human rights to workers in their supply chain.
Lupe Gonzalo, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

The Resource Centre also invited Kroger to respond to the following questions regarding the merger, in light of the human rights risks outlined by Lever News, and in line with Kroger’s international standards under the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights. The UNGPs highlight how human rights risks are heightened during business, governance and contract restructuring, and “may be inherited through mergers or acquisitions” where target companies are associated with human rights actual, potential or alleged harms.

Outreach to Kroger

  1. How and to what extent has Kroger assessed the human rights risks of the merger, including use of its existing human rights due diligence process?
  2. What salient human rights risks has Kroger identified as potentially arising from the merger?

Should the merger be successful, and noting the recent allegations of severe labour rights abuses in both Kroger’s and Albertsons’ supply chains in the USA (here and here, for example), please:

  1. Outline how Kroger intends to address these abuses and prevent them recurring in both companies’ supply chains or consolidated supply chain following the merger.
  2. Confirm whether and how Kroger commits to investigate and remedy historic cases of alleged abuse in Albertons’ supply chains.
  3. Describe how Kroger plans to respond to reported labour market concerns of employer concentration, wage reduction and layoffs/ hour cuts among grocery store workers?

In February 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it has sued to block the merger, asking a court to block the companies from closing the deal on antitrust grounds. The FTC has alleged the merger "would gain increased leverage over workers and their unions—to the detriment of workers", echoing previous criticism.

Company Responses


No Response