Coalition Formed To Strengthen Price Discrimination Law

Yesterday, the National Grocers Association formed the Main Street Competition Coalition to promote competition by strengthening enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act (“RPA”), the only federal price discrimination law to ensure a level playing field for the benefit of both businesses and consumers.

Members of the MSCC include the Energy Marketers of America as well as the National Community Pharmacists Association, American Beverage Licensees, National Association of Convenience Stores, Protect Our Restaurants, Organic Farmers Association, Western Growers Association, National Beer Wholesalers Association and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators.

The RPA prohibits price discrimination when the effect of the discrimination is to lessen or destroy competition.

EMA’s Convenience Store Committee has had multiple discussions centered on the discrimination practiced by suppliers of beverages and other grocery items in their sales to convenience stores, discrimination that favors, among others, super stores and big box retailers who are regarded by suppliers as being in a different class of trade from their smaller to medium-sized competitors.

While the RPA authorizes private enforcement by retailers, the obstacles to successful enforcement (many of which were fashioned by the federal courts) make private enforcement too difficult and time-consuming, and ultimately too risky from a success standpoint to justify the enormous costs of such litigation.

The only viable means of enforcing the law, therefore, is to encourage enforcement of the RPA by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Unfortunately, the FTC has not brought a case under the Robinson-Patman Act in more than 20 years. Nor has the FTC brought an enforcement action against economic discrimination using the other antitrust laws.

The objective of MSCC is to breathe life back into the RPA law.

            For more information, visit the Main Street Competition Coalition website.

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