Get ready for the $10 tube of toothpaste. Colgate-Palmolive Co (CL.N) CEO Noel Wallace said last week at an industry conference that the household goods maker sees its new Optic White Pro Series toothpaste as the type of premium product “vital” to its ability to raise prices, which will help drive profit growth this year.
His remarks come when many consumer products companies are hiking prices as much as they can to offset their own rising costs, a trend that could continue due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, whose economic risks include driving up gasoline prices. So far retailers and consumers seem largely unfazed by higher prices. But some lawmakers and consumer advocates argue that companies are excessively raising prices in order to fuel profits and return money to shareholders.
“We’re seeing significant price hikes on virtually every item consumers purchase,” said U.S. Representative David Cicilline, who is working on proposed antitrust legislation aimed at bringing down prices. “They’re imposing real hardships. People are taking things out of their grocery carts because it’s too expensive.”
In the past, major retailers such as Walmart Inc pushed back on price hikes. But now, retailers like Walmart and Target Corp, which is to report quarterly results Tuesday, are mostly going along with them.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission over the last three months has probed sky-high prices and supply chain disruptions, requiring companies including Procter & Gamble, Kraft Heinz Co, Kroger Co, and Walmart to turn over internal documents on profit margins, pricing, and promotions.
Comments on the inquiry are due March 14 and so far show small grocers angry with having to pay more and receive less of crucial products. Consumers wrote in about being unable to find oatmeal, cereal, and cat food.