Following the latest Consumer Price Index report showing that food-at-home costs went up 10 percent since last year, new earnings information released by Albertsons Companies shows that the food and drug retail giant reported $1.6 billion in 2021 fiscal year income — a 90 percent increase from 2020 — after admitting to passing on increased costs to consumers, according to Accountable.US, a watchdog organization.
After inflating its prices, the company also increased its stock dividends by 121 percent to more than $207 million. The corporation’s huge profits confirmed continuing research from Accountable.US showing how major companies across several industries are using the pandemic as an excuse to increase their wealth and line their shareholders’ pockets at the expense of consumers.
“When a company like Albertsons sees a stunning 90 percent boost in net income, it suggests consumer prices didn’t need to be adjusted so high to keep up with outside costs,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “During a fragile economic recovery, highly-profitable corporations can and should do more to keep prices under control for everyday families – not using the pandemic as an excuse to pad their profits.”
More examples of pandemic profiteering in grocery stores, according to Accountable.US’s research, are:
- In its earnings report, General Mills said it expects strong fourth quarter numbers thanks to “ongoing elevated consumer demand for food at home.” The company saw its quarterly net income increase 11 percent to $660 million and spent $934 million on dividends this fiscal year after price hikes of up to 20 percent on hundreds of items in January.
- In its earnings information, Hormel Foods – which planned on rising prices not once, but twice, in 2021 – touted “its fifth consecutive quarter of record net sales” and $132 million in first quarter shareholder dividends. The company’s doing so well that it completed a $3.35 billion acquisition of Kraft Heinz’s Planters peanuts — the largest acquisition in the company’s history. CEO Jim Snee said the acquisition was a “catalyst for earnings growth.”
- After Mondelez — whose brands include Oreo, Ritz, Wheat Thins, and Triscuits — saw its gross profit increase by over $800 million in 2021, the company still increased prices by up to 7 percent in January 2022 and is leaving the door open to raising them again despite spending nearly $4 billion on stock buybacks and dividends in 2021.
- In December 2021, Kroger’s chairman and CEO said the company was “in a position of strength” as the grocery chain reported a third quarter operating profit of $868 million and spent $297 million on quarterly stock buybacks just months after it said it was “passing along higher cost to the customer.”