Coles and Woolworths respond to Senate inquiry

Coles and Woolworths have both confirmed their attendance at next year’s Senate inquiry and are ready to engage with the committee.

Spearheaded by the Greens, the inquiry will scrutinise the impact of market concentration on food prices and the pattern of pricing strategies employed by the supermarket duopoly.

Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths Group, said they welcome the opportunity to explain to the Senate how they are working to balance the needs of their customers, team, and suppliers in the context of economy-wide inflationary pressure.

“As we have done at several inquiries this year, we will openly and constructively assist the parliament with its work on this important topic.

“We are proud to directly employ 180,000 team members in Australia and support the livelihoods of 18,000 suppliers in the communities we serve.”

Senior Woolworths Group executives have appeared before three parliamentary inquiries this year, including the Senate Select Committee on the cost of living, the House Standing Committee on Agriculture’s inquiry into food security in Australia, and the House Standing Committee on Economics’ inquiry into promoting economic dynamism, competition, and business formation.

Leah Weckert, CEO of Coles, said they have worked collaboratively with previous inquiries and are ready to work with the Committee and engage in an informed discussion on the factors that influence supermarket pricing.

“We continue to invest in providing great value to our customers, supporting our network of more than 8000 suppliers, and providing employment to more than 120,000 Australians right across the country.”

Coles’ total supermarket price inflation declined to 3.1 per cent for the July-September quarter, and since Q1 FY20, Coles has reported inflation figures to the market below the national inflation rate in the food and non-alcoholic beverages category.

A Coles spokesperson said that Coles is also not immune to the increased cost of doing business; construction costs, energy prices, and the cost of logistics and packaging have all risen.

“Our suppliers are also challenged with many of the same increases and, rightly so, we have experienced a greater volume of supplier price increase requests which we have to balance. We are always exploring ways to reduce prices on the products we sell.”

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