[Billing Code 6750-01]
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Public Workshop: Slotting Allowances and Other Grocery Marketing Practices:
When Should They Raise Antitrust Concerns?
AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission
ACTION: Notice Announcing Workshop
SUMMARY: The Federal Trade Commission has set May 31 and June 1 as the dates for its public workshop examining the appropriate antitrust assessment of slotting allowances, category management, and other grocery marketing practices.
DATES: The workshop will be held on May 31 and June 1 in the Commission Meeting Room (Room 432), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
FOR PANEL PARTICIPATION OR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain information about possible panel participation or for questions about the workshop, please contact: David Balto, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580, telephone 202-326-2881, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or William Cohen, Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580, telephone 202-326-2110, e-mail email@example.com.
In recent years, debate has continued about when slotting allowances and other grocery marketing practices appropriately raise antitrust concerns and thus pose potential matters for antitrust enforcement. The Commission last held hearings in this area in November, 1995, and this past fall, both the Senate Small Business Committee and the House Judiciary Committee held hearings that addressed several issues, including antitrust issues, in connection with slotting allowances.
The term "slotting allowance" typically refers to a lump-sum, up-front payment that a food manufacturer must pay to a supermarket for access to its shelves. Very often, debates over slotting allowances have assumed that all slotting allowances, and all of the market conditions in which they are used, are the same. In fact, the term "slotting allowance" has been used to cover an extremely broad range of conduct, some of it clearly unlawful as commercial bribery, some clearly lawful, and a great deal of it in the gray area in between, the antitrust legality of which can be determined only in light of all the surrounding facts and circumstances. At the same time, the legal and economic literature on the appropriate antitrust analysis of these practices has not been as well developed as would be desirable.
The FTC plans to convene a workshop that will focus on the antitrust implications of slotting allowances and other grocery marketing practices, such as category management, in which retailers engage particular manufacturers to provide advisory or decision-making functions in determining how best to market certain products of a type produced by those manufacturers. The workshop is intended to facilitate a discussion among manufacturers and retailers (both small and large businesses), consumer groups, marketing experts, economists, and lawyers that will increase factual knowledge and illuminate the relevant antitrust issues with respect to these and other grocery marketing practices. The format will consist of panel presentations and discussions, which will include participation by attendees.
The goal of the workshop is to gain a better understanding of the types of slotting allowances and other grocery marketing practices that are used, the reasons for which they are used, and the criteria for assessing wether slotting allowances or other grocery marketing practices raise antitrust concerns. Interested parties are invited to participate or attend.
Specific Questions To Be Asked
The workshop will address the following questions, among others:
The Commission welcomes suggestions for other questions that should be addressed as well.
By direction of the Commission.
Donald S. Clark