Woolies And Coles Are Finally Copping An ACCC Price Inquiry And What Took Them So Long?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has today announced that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will investigate the prices on supermarket shelves. It comes after months of calls for the competition regulator to look into the industry, with farmers, consumers and politicians all making allegations of price gouging.

In his speech at the National Press Club earlier today, Albanese said the ACCC would conduct a 12-month inquiry into the industry. He said it will look at things such as online shopping, loyalty programs and how changes in technology have impacted competition in the industry.

“[It will also] examine the difference between the price paid at the farm gate and the prices people are paying at the checkout,” he said.

“For me it’s this simple: when farmers are selling their products for less, supermarkets should be charging Australians at the checkout less.”

His comments came after concerns that farmers were being paid less by supermarkets for produce, but prices at supermarkets were remaining steady or even increasing.

Albanese also announced that government will begin funding consumer advocacy group Choice in a further attempt “promote transparency, enhance competition, and drive value” in the industry.

“These actions send a very clear message that our government is prepared to take action to make sure that Australians are not paying one dollar more than they should for the things that they need,” he said.

The ACCC said it welcomes the announcement, with chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb saying that grocery prices have become a major point of concern in the country.

“When it comes to fresh produce, we understand that many farmers are concerned about weak correlation between the price they receive for their produce and the price consumers pay at the checkout,” she said.

“We will use our full range of legal powers to conduct a detailed examination of the supermarket sector, and where we identify problems or opportunities for improvement, we will carefully consider what recommendations we can make to government.”

The ACCC is already investigating supermarkets over misleading promotions, alleging that supermarkets are raising prices and then dropping them in order to offer a “special”. The regulator is considering legal action, and Albanese has said he would consider giving it extra powers if requested.

The inquiry will likely begin next month, with an interim report provided to the government later in the year. A final report will be published in early 2025.