The Hidden War Over Grocery Shelf Space

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When considering a late-night carton of cookies-and-cream ice cream, most people aren’t thinking about how it got on the shelf. But behind each freezer door is a secondary market that determines what you have the option to buy.

“Slotting fees” (or “slotting allowances”) are fees that manufacturers pay retailers to appear on their scarce shelves. It can cost millions of dollars to launch a product in the nation’s groceries, and through that cost, these fees shape our supermarkets and diets long before we’re able to make a purchase decision ourselves.

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