Think grocery prices are high now? Just wait.

We can’t afford to let another supermarket giant gobble up an even bigger piece of the American pie.

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Think your grocery bill is high now? Just wait.

A massive corporate merger could send skyrocketing food prices through the stratosphere, unless the government sees the deal for what it is — a rotten egg.

Supermarket giant Kroger is in the process of finalizing a nearly $25 billion deal to acquire its jumbo-sized competitor Albertsons, combining their 5,000 supermarkets into one mega company.

Corporate concentration in the grocery market is already a huge problem, with estimates showing that just five companies control over 60 percent of American grocery sales

This means less consumer choice, and more opportunity for grocery stores to jack up prices — which they’ve already been doing lately under the cover of inflation. Let’s be clear: Big corporations are using the excuse of inflation to pass price increases through to you.

Now you may think this merger won’t affect you because you don’t have a Kroger or Albertsons where you live, but here’s the kicker: Both stores already control dozens of other grocery brands across the country. So you may not even know you’re actually shopping at Kroger or Albertsons.

All told, this deal could affect grocery stores relied on by 85 million households.

What’s to stop this new goliath from continually raising prices if customers have nowhere else to shop? With grocery bills already going through the roof, Kroger buying Albertsons gets rid of the roof altogether.

A Kroger-owned mega company can also get away with paying workers even less than it already does — because fewer competitors means grocery workers have fewer choices of whom to work for.  

According to one survey75% of Kroger workers were food insecure and 14% have experienced homelessnessOne out of every five Kroger workers has relied on government aid to survive.This is no secret to Kroger execs either. Recently leaked internal documents reveal that the company has known about the plight of its workers for years.

This is the story of monopolization, folks. Corporate consolidation is bad news for everyone except the super-rich. It’s awful for consumers, workers, and the economy as a whole — and it’s driving the most extreme wealth imbalance in over a century.

But the good news is that this Kroger-Albertsons deal is far from being fully baked. The Federal Trade Commission has the power to intervene and stop it. Several labor unionsproduce growersantitrust experts, and state Attorneys General are already urging the FTC to block it.

We can’t afford to let another supermarket giant gobble up an even bigger piece of the American pie.

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Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

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