The Rudd Government has today directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to commence a formal inquiry into grocery prices.
The Rudd Government wants to ensure working families are getting a fair deal at the supermarket.
While the Howard-Costello Government's failure to act on 20 Reserve Bank inflation warnings is impacting on prices across Australia, we want to know if more can be done to ensure working families have access to a competitive market for basic food items.
The Rudd Government has instructed the ACCC to take a broad approach to its inquiry and ensure all aspects of the chain are included - from the farm gate to the check out counter.
The inquiry will consider the current structure of the grocery industry at the supply, wholesale and retail levels including mergers and acquisitions by the national retailers; the nature of competition and the pricing practices in the grocery industry; and factors influencing efficient pricing of inputs along the supply chain.
The ACCC is required to report to the Minister by 31 July 2008.
Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen has also asked the ACCC to advise him by the end of February on how the ACCC may deliver a periodic survey of grocery prices at supermarkets for a typical shopping basket; and how best to establish a dedicated website on grocery prices as well as any other methods that could be used to provide information to the public.
Matters to be taken into consideration by the inquiry shall include, but not be restricted to:
- the current structure of the grocery industry at the supply, wholesale and retail levels including mergers and acquisitions by the national retailers;
- the nature of competition at the supply, wholesale, and retail levels of the grocery industry;
- the competitive position of small and independent retailers;
- the pricing practices of the national grocery retailers and the representation of grocery prices to consumers;
- factors influencing the pricing of inputs along the supply chain for standard grocery items;
- any impediments to efficient pricing of inputs along the supply chain; and
- the effectiveness of the Horticulture Code of Conduct, and whether the inclusion of other major buyers such as retailers would improve the effectiveness of the code.
In undertaking the inquiry, the ACCC will consult widely with retailers, businesses along the supply chain, farmers, consumer groups and other interested parties.
22 January 2008
Media Contact: James Cullen - 0409 719 879