The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing a lawsuit against Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits over alleged anti-competitive pricing practices.

According to Politico, the Florida-based beverage logistics giant is alleged to have violated the 1936 Robinson-Patman Act, which prohibits suppliers from offering cheaper prices to bigger retailers “at the expense of their smaller competitors”.

Politico cited four unnamed people “with knowledge of the matter”.

The FTC refused to provide comment when contacted by Just Drinks. Southern Glazer’s could not be reached for comment.

Southern Glazer’s is the only known target of the FTC investigation but the watchdog is reportedly looking more broadly at wine and spirit sales by US distributors.

The FTC is also investigating The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo over claims the CSD giants engaged in price-discrimination practices. It has been talking to major retailers across the US about how they buy and price soft drinks.

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The discussions form part of an investigation into whether or not beverage companies are giving better deals to larger retailers, at the detriment of smaller shops, again using the Robinson-Patman Act as a legal instrument.

In the last 34 years, the FTC has only announced two rulings citing the Robinson-Patman Act. The last was in 2000, when seasoning-and-spice manufacturer McCormick & Co. settled with the FTC after being found to have violated federal antitrust laws by engaging in anti-competitive pricing practices.

In a grocery-supply-chain report published last March, the FTC said rising retailer profits “warrant further inquiry” as they did not seem to be in-line with rising costs.