PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes is launching an anti-trust investigation into the Kroger Co.’s planned acquisition of Albertsons Companies.

“Hardworking Arizonans struggle daily to put fresh, healthy food on the table for their families and have already suffered through devastating price increases over the past year,” Mayes said. “In addition to skyrocketing prices, the proposed merger raises questions about the potential for store closures that could force consumers to travel farther for groceries – possibly creating food deserts that disproportionately affect minority communities.”

According to a statement from the Attorney General’s office, The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Companies currently own a combined total of more than 250 retail stores in Arizona.

The statement also said that nearly half of Arizona’s grocery market sales are generated by The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Companies stores, and more than 35,000 Arizona citizens are employed by the two companies.

“Thousands of employees will also wonder whether their jobs will still exist if the merger is finalized,” Mayes said. “And even if they remain employed, workers may have to worry whether their wages or benefits will decrease. Farmers and ranchers also fear that a consolidated supermarket giant might wield unfair buying power that would force them out of business in favor of corporate producers. I will fight to ensure that Arizona consumers, workers, and local grocery producers are not harmed.”

Over the next several weeks, Mayes will be hosting sessions with members of the Arizona communities who may be most affected by the merger to hear directly from the workers and families on the topic.