A new Senate Committee will investigate the market power of the major supermarkets and their effect on the price of everyday groceries, and the National Farmers Federation had piled on with an issues paper about the lack of transparency in supermarket prices.
The Committee has been established in response to rising supermarket profits, whilst Australians face rising costs at the checkout, which the supermarkets attribute to increased cost pressures.
Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Perin Davey said the establishment of the Committee was made possible through a motion introduced by The Greens and unopposed in the Senate.
“We all know that the cost of living is going up and it is timely to investigate whether the concentration of market power in our supermarket sector is a contributing factor,” Senator Davey said.
“We welcome this inquiry and will be taking the opportunity to examine pricing practices, as we know the price paid to farmers is not increasing in line with the price consumers are paying.
“This inquiry gives us the chance to look at the regulatory framework and see if there are changes we can make to help lower prices.
“That includes how suppliers interact with supermarkets and the role of multinational food companies.
“We have been calling on the Government to empower the ACCC to monitor these issues, but they have not done so.
“In the absence of increasing the ACCC’s powers, this Committee will look into the behaviour of the big supermarkets and their pricing practices, and make appropriate recommendations,” she said.
Meanwhile the National Farmers’ Federation has released an issues paper on market price transparency. This outlines steps the Government can take to improve fairness and price transparency for farmers which will flow on to better outcomes for consumers at the checkout.
NFF President David Jochinke said the pressures on farmers were reaching boiling point, with an AUSVEG survey earlier this year showing 34% of vegetable growers were considering leaving the industry and a livestock market crash not reflected in supermarket prices.
“For decades we’ve seen our supply chains gradually tighten to the point where we’re now one of the most tightly consolidated supply chains on the planet.
“Many farmers have only one customer to buy their products, and only a handful of places to buy their inputs. That puts not just farmers, but consumers, at a huge disadvantage.
“There’s no transparency. We can see what people pay at the checkout, and we know what we’re getting at the farm gate – but who clips the ticket in the middle is hidden from view,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We know this is an issue that farmers and everyday Australians care about. People don’t want to be ripped off at the checkout, and they don’t want the farmer to be ripped off either.
To download the NFF Issues Paper, click here.
The Senate Committee will be taking submissions from the public and is due to present a final report by 7 May 2024. For further information go to: Select Committee on Supermarket Prices – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au)