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ACCC Launches Inquiry into Australian Supermarkets’ Pricing Practices

 |  January 25, 2024

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has initiated a comprehensive investigation into the pricing and competition practices of the country’s supermarket sector, aiming to shed light on concerns related to pricing practices, particularly focusing on the relationship between wholesale, farmgate, and retail prices.

This announcement follows a parliamentary inquiry launched in early December, prompted by allegations of price-gouging and profiteering against major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, brought forward by the Greens, one of Australia’s prominent political parties.

The ACCC, acting as the consumer and competition watchdog, has been tasked by the government with conducting a year-long inquiry to scrutinize the supermarket sector thoroughly. The inquiry will encompass an examination of pricing practices and competition dynamics within the sector, taking into account the changes that have occurred since the ACCC’s last inquiry in 2008.

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ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, emphasized the significance of addressing the concerns raised by consumers and industry participants, stating, “We know grocery prices have become a major concern for the millions of Australians experiencing cost-of-living pressures. When it comes to fresh produce, we understand that many farmers are concerned about the weak correlation between the price they receive for their produce and the price consumers pay at the checkout.”

The ACCC’s inquiry will not only focus on the pricing practices but will also explore the broader landscape of competition within the supermarket sector. With a specific focus on how the sector has evolved over the past decade, the investigation aims to identify any anti-competitive behaviors or market distortions that may impact pricing structures and consumer choices.

This move by the ACCC reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring fair competition and consumer protection within the Australian retail industry. The inquiry will involve extensive consultations with industry stakeholders, including farmers, suppliers, and consumer advocacy groups, to gather a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by various players in the supply chain.

Source: Just Food