You are here
WASHINGTON - Accepting a staff recommendation made more than a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission has unanimously denied a request by three trade associations that it issue guidelines on slotting allowances.
In a letter to lawyers for the Independent Bakers Association, the Tortilla Industry Association, and the National Association of Chewing Gum Manufacturers, the commission said last week that while the issues raised in the groups' petition "are of considerable interest," developing guidelines consumes substantial resources and there are better ways to address the issues. The FTC said it continues to study slotting allowances and related practices.
Advocates of guidelines had hoped for standards that would make clear what slotting practices are legal, which are questionable, and which fall somewhere between.
The petition, filed in April 2000, figured prominently in a two-day slotting workshop convened by the FTC six weeks later at which small manufacturers testified their businesses were hurt by retailer demands for slotting fees they couldn't afford. The staff report was issued in February 2001. It discussed the workshop proceedings extensively, recommended against guidelines, and urged further research, noting that the commission still didn't know a lot about slotting practices.
That's directly traceable to the grocery industry's nearly unanimous unwillingness to cooperate with government attempts to analyze the effects of slotting. Ahold USA was the only major retailer to attend the FTC workshop, and no large packaged goods companies showed up. In September 2001, the investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office, said it was unable to produce a slotting study the committee asked for because retailers and suppliers wouldn't talk.