25 January 2024

Government to launch ACCC inquiry into supermarket prices

Note

Joint media release with

Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister of Australia

Andrew Leigh MP
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury

The Albanese Government will direct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate pricing and competition in the supermarket sector to ensure Australians are paying a fair price for their groceries.

We understand that Australians are under the pump and the cost of groceries is among the biggest concern for many.

This 12-month ACCC inquiry – the first of its kind since 2008 – will investigate the competitiveness of retail prices and allegations of price gouging in the supermarket sector.

The monitoring announced today is an important part of the Government’s broader efforts to boost competition and put downward pressure on the price of essentials for Australians, including a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct and the Competition Review’s focus on cost-of-living initiatives.

Matters to be considered by the ACCC will include, but will not be limited to:

  • The current structure of the supermarket industry at the supply, wholesale and retail levels;
  • Competition in the industry and how it has changed since 2008, including the growth of online shopping;
  • The competitiveness of small and independent retailers, including regional and remote areas;
  • The pricing practices of supermarkets;
  • Factors influencing prices along the supply chain, including the difference between farmgate and supermarket prices;
  • Any impediments to competitive pricing along the supply chain; and
  • Other factors impacting competition, including loyalty programs and third-party discounts.

The ACCC will produce an interim report in 2024 and final report in early 2025 which will provide the Government with findings and recommendations. The Government is working with the ACCC to finalise the direction, which will be issued in coming days.

In addition, the Government will deliver $1.1 million to respected consumer group CHOICE to provide price transparency and comparison reports on a quarterly basis for three years.

Starting from the second quarter of 2024, CHOICE will provide shoppers with better information on the comparative costs of grocery goods at different retailers, highlighting those charging the most and the least.

The provision of this information will empower Australian consumers to make informed choices about food and grocery purchases. 

Quotes Attributable to Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese:

“When farmers are selling their product for less, supermarkets should charge Australians less.”

“That’s why the ACCC will use its significant powers to probe the difference between the price paid at the farm gate, and the prices people pay at the check-out.”

“My Government is prepared to take action to make sure that Australians are not paying one dollar more than they should for the things they need.”

Quotes attributable to Treasurer, Jim Chalmers:

“Australians are under cost-of-living pressure, and we know that a lot of that pressure is piled on at the cash register.

“This is about making our supermarkets as competitive as they can be so Australians get the best prices possible.

“We want a fair go for families and a fair go for farmers.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Andrew Leigh:

“Competition is the consumer’s friend. Economics teaches us that monopolies tend to overcharge and underdeliver.

“Australia’s grocery sector is more concentrated than in other countries. The Government has appointed respected policy economist Dr Craig Emerson to review the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to look at whether the Code is effective in improving the conduct of supermarkets towards their suppliers.

“An ACCC inquiry and regular CHOICE reporting will complement this by making sure supermarkets are charging fair prices and by helping shoppers to save money.”