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Kroger: ‘Organized crime’ among contributors to higher food prices

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kroger grocery chain will raise food prices from 2-3% this year, more than what they expected, Rodney McMullen, the Kroger grocery chain’s chief executive officer, says.

On Kroger’s earnings report call on Friday, the chief financial officer, Gary Millerchip, said higher supply chain costs, rising levels of theft, and increasing food prices all will play roles.

“We are being more aggressive,” Millerchip said on the call. “Our general counsel is also working with some trade associations to try to start working on it in a broader group, not just Kroger-specific, when you look at organized crime.”

Cincinnati-based Kroger touts itself as one of the world’s largest retailers with more than 2,700 stores in 35 U.S. states.

Millerchip went on to say that Home Depot and other major retailers also are experiencing something similar to people stealing products before they get to the store. “We do believe it’ll be important to partner with the government and the way products are able to be sold in the marketplace.”

Wyakita Toles lives in Indianapolis and finds the situation frustrating. She said Kroger is known for its deals.

“Like 10 for 10, what’s gonna happen to that? For them to raise their prices, people will probably stop shopping there,” said Toles.

Finding a new place to shop is something Gary Morrison is already considering.

“I’m a small business owner myself so everything that comes in, I have to budget wisely, including food,” said Morrison.

I-Team 8 spoke economist Kyle Anderson with Indiana University Kelley School of Business about the impact the rise in Kroger prices could have on the Indiana economy. “Transportation, storage, all the kinds of things that a grocery has to do to get food into the store, is becoming more expensive right now.”

Anderson says he doesn’t believe organized crime can take all the credit for Kroger raising food prices. Beef, pork and poultry prices have soared. Beef prices have risen 14% this year; pork prices have jumped 12.1%; and poultry prices nearly 7% higher.

“We’ve been through a crazy year and a half here in terms of how businesses are able to conduct their business, get their products into their stores and into the hands of consumers,” Anderson said. “They have to invest more money, and a lot of that will lead to higher costs.”

Anderson says he understand higher prices can be daunting for struggling families coming out of pandemic. However, he says, a silver lining is wages are rising, too.

“A lot of people are seeing their paychecks increase, and there are a lot of jobs available right now,” Anderson said. “So hopefully the families that are struggling, maybe finding those jobs right now, is a pretty good time to be a job seeker.”