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If Market Basket goes, higher food prices are surely on the way

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Two weeks ago I sent a letter to the management at Hannaford. Hannaford is not owned by people In Maine, as most people think. It is owned by the Delhaize group, a large, multibillion-dollar corporation headquartered in Belgium.

I thought my letter might serve as a wake-up call to Hannaford. I explained they needed to lower their prices. Now seemed the perfect time to speak out. I was sure they had received a huge surge of business from the high drama playing out at Market Basket (MB), their main competitor. If they wanted to keep that business surge, they needed to lower prices.

I explained that MB got 90 percent of my food-shopping dollar. The other 10 percent went to them. If they wanted to keep 100 percent of my business they could by matching MB's prices. I shop MB for one reason, price, as do tens of tens of thousands of others. That is especially true given MB's extra 4 percent off everything until year end. I pointed out just about every product I buy at MB's cost less by several cents, often by several percent. In fact many items can be 20 percent less or greater for a single item at MB.

It seems Hannaford agrees with my letter. They will lose all their new-found business if MB reopens. Hannaford's is now acting aggressively, but not in the way I recommended. The Delhaize group is now trying to buy MB to eliminate its biggest competitor to gain even greater pricing advantage. There will be no lowering of prices to match MB. In fact the elimination of MB assures Lakes Region shoppers will experience even higher food prices across the board.

It is estimated MB is (or was) worth $3 billion to $3.5 billions. Its value drops every day their customers go someplace else to shop. The Demoulas family members are all wealthy beyond imagination. The conflict, as always, is about ego, control, greed, and arrogance. One thing is certain, the egos of the Demoulas family notwithstanding and the blind, self interest by MB employees shutting down MB stores notwithstanding. This conflict could produce the absolute worst nightmare ending for every Lakes Region food shopper. That is, Hannaford buys MB.

The Lakes Region shrinks from three competitors to two, where the low-cost seller is taken out. That blows the doors wide open for Hannaford and Shaw's. Those two competitors are now savoring the blood feud at MB. They love the employee strike and protests. They can already taste the higher prices and great profits with a vanquished MB. I guarantee higher food prices are on their way from both Hannaford and Shaw's with MB gone. It is as certain as night following day.

So praise the MB employees and the old MB boss all you want. Just understand, as both owners and employees at MB pursue their best interests, they may be burying yours in higher grocery prices if the stubborn egos allow Hannaford the opening to win the end game. The person who has the most to gain, will pay the most. That, my friends, is Hannaford. The person with the most to lose in this confrontation of egos? You.

Tony Boutin