If you’re a Harris Teeter or Piggly Wiggly enthusiast, a grocery store employee or a concerned citizen with an eye on rising food prices, Maryland’s attorney general wants to hear from you.

Attorney General Anthony G. Brown is asking residents across the state for input on the proposed merger between the Kroger Co. and Albertsons Companies Inc., two national grocery retail giants that are the parent companies for Harris Teeter and Safeway, respectively.

The Kroger Co. announced plans this month to sell 10 Harris Teeter stores located in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to C&S, another private wholesale grocery supply chain that operates Grand Union grocery stores and the Piggly Wiggly franchise.

The sale is expected to help Kroger clear some regulatory hurdles ahead of the proposed merger with Albertsons. Kroger representatives have declined to identify which of the 18 Harris Teeters located in Maryland are slated to be sold to C&S, stating on Sept. 12 that they anticipate more details will become public closer to closing.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In a statement Tuesday, a Kroger representative said the company “joining with Albertsons will mean lower prices and more choices for more customers in more communities, higher wages and more industry-leading benefits for associates, and growing union jobs.”

Consolidation across the grocery retail industry has accelerated substantially since 1990. Research suggests that this trend contributes over time to higher prices for consumers, producers and especially low-income households with food accessibility challenges.

So it comes as no surprise that the sweeping merger has attracted the attention of the attorney general office’s antitrust division, which seeks to protect fair competition, worker rights, agricultural interests and consumer welfare. Division officials warn the merger could affect Marylanders’ access to affordable food options, local job security and the vitality of the agricultural industry, according to a news release Monday.

The office is inviting citizens to participate in a survey to voice their concerns and insights. Survey results “will play a critical role in shaping the OAG’s [Office of the Attorney General’s] efforts to ensure that the proposed merger aligns with the best interests of the state and its residents,” the release stated.

“I know families are feeling the effects of rising food prices every time they visit a grocery store,” Brown said. “I want to ensure that Marylanders’ voices are heard throughout the process of this potential merger, and that any potential deal upholds the principles of fair competition in order to protect our communities, including consumers, workers, farmers, and local businesses. We’re committed to advocating for robust competition that safeguards consumer interests and supports the economic well-being of our state.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The sale of the Harris Teeter stores is part of a larger divestment plan hatched by the grocery retail giants that affects 413 stores, eight distribution centers, two offices and five private-label brands nationwide.