The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that it is investigating the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how they are “causing serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S. economy.”

The FTC said it is ordering Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, other large wholesalers and suppliers including Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods and Kraft Heinz Co. “to turn over information to help study causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices.”

Orders also are being sent to C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and McLane Co, Inc.

“Supply chain disruptions are upending the provision and delivery of a wide array of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a statement.

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According to the FTC, companies have 45 days to reply after receiving the order.

Along with understanding the reasons behind the supply chain disruptions, the FTC’s study will examine “whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices.”

The FTC said the companies are required to “detail the primary factors disrupting their ability to obtain, transport and distribute their products; the impact these disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders, increased costs and prices; the products, suppliers and inputs most affected; and the steps the companies are taking to alleviate disruptions; and how they allocate products among their stores when they are in short supply.”

Companies also are required to provide the FTC with “internal documents regarding the supply chain disruptions, including strategies related to supply chains; pricing; marketing and promotions; costs, profit margins and sales volumes; selection of suppliers and brands; and market shares.”

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The supply chain for holiday shopping

The holiday season was underway when President Joe Biden attempted to assure shoppers that his administration would work to improve supply chain issues.

Companies are working hard to address the lingering COVID-related shut downs as well as issues that arose from strong recovery which has created more demand than any ports, retailers or manufacturers can manage.

On Monday, the president met with CEOs from Walmart, Food Lion and Samsung. Biden was assured by corporate leaders.

“While we’re all concerned about the supply chain, we have more inventory than we did a year ago, and we have the inventory that we need to be able to support the business,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said. “And we are seeing progress. The port and transit delays are improving.”

This report was contributed by The Associated Press. Follow Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY journalist on Twitter @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group. 



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