Arlington, VA – Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy’s hearing titled “Protecting Consumers’ Pocketbooks: Lowering Food Prices and Combatting Corporate Price Gouging and Consolidation.” 

“The food industry continues to face headwinds and economic hurdles, such as ever-increasing swipe fees for credit card payments that add 2-4% on average per transaction, and which cost American households over $1,100 a year. In 2023, merchants’ credit and debit card fees totaled $172.05 billion, an increase of 7.1% from the previous year. Of this total, $100.7 billion in fees were assessed on merchants to accept Visa and Mastercard-branded credit cards. 

“Our retailer members with pharmacies must also pay retroactive fees on every prescription to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), making it difficult for them to accurately predict their business costs. In addition to these fees, they are often forced to accept take-it-or-leave it contracts with little or no ability to negotiate the terms. 

“Policymakers can impact these cost pressures by passing the bipartisan, bicameral Credit Card Competition Act that would require more than one routing network on credit cards. They should also focus on reining in exorbitant direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and other anticompetitive PBM practices that have a financial impact on retailers with pharmacy operations and their customers. 

“Despite these headwinds, we remain optimistic that food price inflation is heading in the right direction. FMI is pleased with the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers showing that food-at-home was a bright spot in April’s data, providing welcome news for grocery shoppers and demonstrating that the industry’s efforts to engage and partner with consumers to help address high inflation have continued to drive progress.” 

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