Supermarket Spin Drives Divide Between City And Country

Farmers are today preparing to join the first of a series of five roundtables hosted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as part of their inquiry into the supermarkets.

The inquiry will examine the pricing practices of the supermarkets and the relationship between wholesale, including farmgate, and retail prices. An interim report, outlining preliminary findings, is due to the Treasurer before the end of August.

Jolyon Burnett, Chair of the NFF Horticulture Council, said growers of fresh fruits and vegetables and their industry representatives would keep the message to the ACCC simple.

“Growers are completely frustrated with supermarkets appearing before inquiries at both federal and state levels and being allowed to peddle the furphy that prices paid to suppliers, let alone those paid by shoppers, are driven by simple supply and demand,” Mr Burnett said.

“While parliamentary inquiries and the public have largely seen through the spin, we are relying on ACCC powers to compel supermarkets to submit evidence that will fully expose the exploitation of suppliers and price gouging of consumers.

“For supermarkets to say they don’t manipulate the market, where growers can see their own produce retailed in store at twice, six or even ten times what they were paid, amounts to gaslighting.

“Supermarkets will pay the lowest possible price for fresh produce and charge the absolutely maximum consumers are willing to accept; maximising profits for shareholders appears to be the primary motive.

“The lack of awareness of how prices are set and the extent to which supply and demand is a factor, is deeply worrying for farmers and consumers alike.

“There is a disconnect from consumers about the realities of farming, of seasons and varieties, and we need to work together to improve that and make sure farmers are paid a reasonable price for produce.

“As an industry we have long bemoaned the loss of public appreciation for how food is grown. Supermarkets have a real role to play in building trust in the way food is produced, delivered and priced and to continue to back farmers to deliver the affordable, sustainable and safe produce, it is costing increasingly more do so and this must be recognised.

“Like banking, the supermarkets are overdue for a reckoning. To date, despite the public outcry, little has changed for fresh produce suppliers. We ask the ACCC to examine and clarify what drives prices.”

Background

The ACCC is hosting roundtables with primary producers and their representatives in five regional locations across the country between today and mid-June.

  • Toowoomba, QLD – 30 May
  • Shepparton, VIC – 3 June
  • Renmark, SA – 5 June
  • Launceston, TAS – 12 June
  • Bunbury, WA – 13 June

More detail about the ACCC supermarkets inquiry 2024-25 can be found here.

About the Horticulture Council

The Council is the recognised peak body for forming policy and advocating on behalf of the national horticulture industry. Established in 2017, it now comprises 21 national commodity and state-based horticulture bodies.

It is a member of the National Farmers’ Federation, free to establish and advance its own policy positions and responses issues impacting the horticulture industry.

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