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Two of the largest grocery chains in the county inked a new $24.6 billion merger agreement that could shift the food-retail ecosystem if it escapes antitrust review by federal regulators. 

Kroger announced it plans to acquire Albertsons for $24.6 billion. The companies have a combined 4,996 stores across the country with total revenue of more than $209 billion generated from their well-known stores like Food 4 Less, Ralphs, Safeway, and Vons.

Albertsons and Kroger currently employs a combined total of more than 710,000 associates and operate about 4,996 stores, 66 distribution centers, 52 manufacturing plants, 3,972 pharmacies, and 2,015 fuel centers. 

It remains unclear how the merger will impact employees who work under the two companies. 

According to Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, ”this merger advances our commitment to building a more equitable and sustainable food system by expanding our footprint into new geographies to serve more of America with fresh and affordable food and accelerates our position as a more compelling alternative to larger and non-union competitors.”

The merger could result in Kroger competing against big retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Costco. Kroger is the largest supermarket operator in the nation with more than 2,700 stores nationwide. Albertsons follows in second place, with almost 2,300 stores. 

The companies said the merger could save customers about $500 million if the deal goes through. The proposed deal could spark antitrust concerns from the Federal Trade Commission. 

The proposed deal also comes as food inflation reached its peak in decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices have increased by 0.4 % from August, with an estimated monthly increase of 0.2 %. 

In the past year, prices increased by 8.2% in September, which is slightly a smaller figure compared to 8.3% in August. The prices of retail food increased by 13% in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

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