• Events
  • Reforming America’s Food Retail Markets

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Register as an attendee

The Thurman Arnold Project at Yale (TAP@Yale), the Information Society Project (ISP), and the Yale Sustainable Food Program (YSFP) are delighted to invite paper submissions for “Reforming America’s Food Retail Markets.” With the support and partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the conference will explore how antitrust enforcement and competition policy can improve food retail markets in America. The conference will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2022, and a decision will be announced in December if the conference will be virtual or in-person.

Update on October 26, 2021: In collaboration with Yale Law & Policy Review, a special online series will be published based on this conference. All papers accepted to this conference will be considered for publication.


Possible Topics & Conference Guidelines

All accepted papers will be asked to both address a problem and propose a solution to it. Multiple solutions to the same problem are encouraged. 

Questions papers could consider include:

  • What are current anti-competitive practices in food retail markets?
  • What impacts do concentration or anti-competitive practices have on local and regional food systems and on the ability of new food producers and processors to access the retail marketplace? How do exclusive dealing arrangements affect the development of new products, limit the growth or diversity of the industry, or negatively affect labor in the industry?  Are certain segments, such as organic products, affected differently?  
  • What harms to family farms, shoppers, workers, small businesses, communities, and others along the food supply chain are caused by concentration or anti-competitive practices in food retail markets?
  • How does competition or concentration among food distributors relate to retail concentration and to fair access to markets for producers?
  • Are current food retail practices consistent with the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Robinson-Patman Act (Public Law 74-692, 49 Stat. 1526, 15 U.S.C. 13 et seq.), or other relevant laws and regulations? What reforms to those laws or their implementation could help promote fairer retail markets?
  • What are the effects of concentration or anti-competitive conduct on food quality, regional distribution of healthy foods, food and nutrition security, worker empowerment, and environmental sustainability?
  • How does concentration or anti-competitive conduct in food retail markets relate to race, class, and other aspects of equity in America?
  • What new competition concerns do online food retail markets present? What are the challenges when large online platforms expand into food retail markets?
  • What horizontal and vertical changes should we make in the food retail system?
  • What new competition concerns do emerging technologies like robotics and AI in food retail markets present?
  • What role do geofencing and customer targeting via emerging technology play in food retail markets?
  • What kind of privacy concerns arise in the context of online grocery shopping? How do Bluetooth beacons and smartphone apps affect shopper privacy?
  • Do facial recognition technology and biometric payment methods introduce security issues for shoppers?
  • To what extent do concentration or anti-competitive practices increase systemic risks in the sector?
  • What regulatory practices in other jurisdictions might lend themselves as examples for the US?


How to participate

Please submit an abstract of up to 500 words to austin.frerick@yale.edu by November 19, 2021. If your abstract is selected, your final paper will be due February 28, 2022.

We welcome submissions from legal scholars and lawyers, economists, sociologists, political scientists, historians, and other academics, as well as current graduate and professional school students, government officials, and individuals affiliated with advocacy organizations, think tanks, and non-profits.

For further questions, please contact TAP Deputy Director Austin Frerick



Selected authors will be compensated $2,500 and travel will be reimbursed for up to two authors per paper. Payment will also be conditioned on delivering a formatted policy paper.


Sponsoring organizations

The Information Society Project (ISP) is an intellectual center at Yale Law School, founded in 1997 by Professor Jack Balkin. Over the past 20 years, the ISP has grown from a handful of people gathering to discuss internet governance into an international community working to illuminate the complex relationships between law, technology, and society.

The Thurman Arnold Project (TAP) launched in fall 2019 in response to the growing interest in competition enforcement from scholars, students, and the general public. The project is named in honor of Thurman Arnold, Yale Law Professor and head of the Antitrust Division from 1938-43, to capture the intellectual and enforcement tradition he represented, as well as his zeal for achieving competitive markets for the people of the United States. The project was founded by Professor Fiona Scott Morton, an economist at the School of Management, and is designed to bring together Yale scholars and students who are interested in antitrust to engage with one another and create rigorous antitrust research and policy, disseminate it, and enable links to enforcement and regulatory policy.

The Yale Sustainable Food Program (YSFP) serves as a cross-disciplinary hub for research and teaching on food systems at Yale. YSFP staff and students operate the Yale Farm on the main campus, bringing field-based practical experience into courses on subjects ranging from anthropology to zoology. YSFP staff work to develop new instructional materials, courses, and practicum opportunities that engage Yale students with current concepts and controversies affecting food and agriculture today. The program offers a range of stipends and fellowships for domestic and international travel and study, and increasingly works as a collaborator in multi-institution research networks. In partnership with international collaborators, the YSFP is currently researching the varied social, economic, and political implications associated with the adoption of new information technologies into farming and agri-food supply chains.


Supporting partners

The conference is supported, in part, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) through a partnership between the AMS and TAP. The topics and views should not, however, be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy.