Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken to blaming large grocery store chains for food prices that have skyrocketed and persistently remained high in recent weeks.
“Giant grocery store chains force high food prices onto American families while rewarding executives & investors with lavish bonuses and stock buybacks. I’m demanding they answer for putting corporate profits over consumers and workers during the pandemic,” Warren tweeted on Monday.
Giant grocery store chains force high food prices onto American families while rewarding executives & investors with lavish bonuses and stock buybacks. I’m demanding they answer for putting corporate profits over consumers and workers during the pandemic. https://t.co/NvY2MKKJNP
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 20, 2021
Spurred by a supply-chain crisis born of massive pandemic-related shutdowns, inflation reached its highest point in nearly four decades this November.
According to NBC:
The greatest increases were seen in gasoline, up 6.1 percent; shelter, up 0.5 percent; food, up 0.7 percent; used cars and trucks, up 2.5 percent; and new vehicles, up 1.1 percent.
Rents also rose by 0.4 percent; and meat, poultry, fish and eggs were up by 0.9 percent. Pork prices rose especially sharply, up 2.2 percent.
President Joe Biden responded to the sharp uptick in consumer prices by blaming the pandemic, saying, “Today’s numbers reflect the pressures that economies around the world are facing as we emerge from a global pandemic — prices are rising.”
But as prices continued to rise, Biden and other began to shift the blame. When gas prices went up, it was not the decrease in U.S. production and the subsequent complete reliance on foreign oil that was the problem — rather, it was the oil companies who were “price-gouging.” And when the price of fresh beef, pork, and poultry rose, it was not the continued labor shortage — which many tied to extensive government unemployment benefits — but the large “meat conglomerates” who were at fault.
And the narrative has continued as grocery prices remain high — prompting Warren to write a letter to a number of the largest grocery chains in the country.
“Your company, and the other major grocers who reaped the benefits of a turbulent 2020, appear to be passing costs on to consumers to preserve your pandemic gains, and even taking advantage of inflation to add greater burdens,” Warren wrote in her letter to the heads of Kroger, Albertson’s, and Publix — a letter she shared with NBC News.
“Your companies had a choice: They could have retained lower prices for consumers and properly protected and compensated their workers, or granted massive payouts to top executives and investors,” Warren wrote, citing reports that several major chains had initiated stock buybacks. “It is disappointing that you chose not to put your customers and workers first.”
NBC News reported:
“Current price increases are due to a combination of supply chain challenges — from labor and transportation shortages to higher fuel costs and increased consumer demand,” FMI, the Food Industry Association, a trade association representing largely food retailers and wholesalers, said in a statement released to NBC News. “Grocers are doing everything they can to absorb these cost increases, and we ask consumers to continue working with us as we recalibrate our supply chains.”