Farmers, families at mercy of supermarkets

A supermarket price gouging report has confirmed supermarkets are failing to treat farmers and families fairly.

Describing Australia’s supermarket sector as among the “most concentrated in the world”, the Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) inquiry led by former ACCC chief Allan Fels found major supermarkets had not only failed to pass on lower prices to consumers but had exercised market power over farmers and other suppliers.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin welcomed the findings of the inquiry, which confirmed the need for meaningful competition reform within the sector.

“The findings of this inquiry only strengthen our case that serious and intensive reform is necessary within our nation’s supermarket sector if fair prices for farmers and families are to be achieved,” Mr Martin said.

“For too long this staggering lack of competition in the sector has enabled the major supermarkets to exercise unfair market power over farmers and suppliers, leaving them with pitiful prices as profit margins increase.

“It’s not fair on farmers and it’s hurting families – and action to bring this behavior to account is long overdue.”

The inquiry found government had failed to pay enough attention to pricing practices by supermarkets, who used ‘profit push’ pricing systems to extract huge margins from farmers and consumers.

“Professor Fels’ report clearly states that supermarkets have continued to drive their own profits up while failing to increase the prices farmers receive for their product at the farm gate,” Mr Martin said.

“The sector has also taken advantage of the lack of competition to exercise their power over consumers in a way that has added even more undue pressure on Australian households, as they face a cost-of-living crisis and significant inflation.

“All of this shows that meaningful competition reform must be set in motion – and now – before farmers are forced out of business and families can’t afford to pay their grocery bill.”

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