A Business Earthquake

The companies’ pricing strategies are being scrutinized under an obscure law known as the Robinson-Patman Act, the people said. The law prohibits suppliers from offering better prices to large retailers at the expense of their smaller competitors. The largely dormant 1936 law is aimed at promoting a level playing field between small retailers and large chain stores.

For at least the last month the FTC has reached out to large retailers, including Walmart, seeking data and other information on how they purchase and price soft drinks, two of the people said. Walmart is not currently a target in the investigation, one of the people said.

The new investigation is the latest sign that the Biden administration is expanding its efforts to rein in big companies and flex its antitrust muscles, and not just in the technology world. Under Lina Khan, the FTC has reached deep into the antitrust playbook, dusting off long quiescent laws in the hopes of curtailing the growth of the world’s biggest firms, from relative newcomers like Apple and Google, and now to more traditional Fortune 500 stalwarts like Pepsi and Coke.

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Good luck making that stick. Volume discounts have been around for a long time.


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Terms are still different company to company. This would force a standardization of terms across all buyers.