A woman shops at a Dollar Tree store in New York, the United States, Nov. 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Monday that it has launched an investigation into supply chain disruptions and has ordered nine large companies to provide detailed information to help study the causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices.
The orders are being sent to Walmart Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Kroger Co., C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., McLane Co, Inc. Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., and Kraft Heinz Co. These companies will have 45 days from the date they receive the order to respond, the FTC said.
The orders require the companies 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, according to the FTC.
"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, adding she's hopeful the FTC's study will shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects.
"The FTC has a long history of pursuing market studies to deepen our understanding of economic conditions and business conduct, and we should continue to make nimble and timely use of these information-gathering tools and authorities," she said.
The probe came after the U.S. Labor Department recently reported that the consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.2 percent in October from a year earlier amid ongoing supply chain disruptions, the strongest annual gain in over 30 years.
In addition to better understanding the reasons behind the disruptions, the study will examine whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices, according to the FTC.