Coles and Woolworths to face Senate inquiry into price gouging

Coles and Woolworths are set to face scrutiny at a Senate inquiry into the price gouging of major supermarkets during a cost-of-living crisis.

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.

Senator Nick McKim, the Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson, said Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits by price gouging in a cost-of-living crisis.

“For too long the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard. It’s time to smash the duopoly.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end.”

The inquiry will investigate the price setting practices and market power of the major supermarkets including rising supermarket profits and the large increase in the price of essential items as well as the validity of discounts offered and the inflation of profits during economic hardship.

“This inquiry is a critical step toward dismantling the market concentration that’s led to unfair pricing and stifled competition. We’ll find a way to dismantle their power and bring grocery prices down,” said McKim.

A Coles spokesperson said that the company’s rate of inflation has been progressively moderating, particularly in key staple areas, with total supermarket price inflation down to 3.1 per cent for the 1Q24 (5.8 per cent in 4Q23).

“Coles is also not immune to the increased cost of doing business – construction costs, energy prices, 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.”

They said that having a profitable business means Coles can continue to serve Australians, invest in its stores, employ the 120,000 team members it employs, pay taxes in Australia, pay dividends to its hundreds of thousands of mum and dad shareholders and ensure long-term sustainable relationships with its suppliers.

A Woolworths spokesperson said it is committed to offering its customers value while working with its suppliers to sensitively manage economy-wide inflationary pressures.

“We know Australians are feeling the strain of cost of living and we are working to deliver relief in their weekly grocery shop.

“As we start to see the rate of inflation ease, we will continue to focus on delivering savings to our customers.”

To stay up to date on the latest industry headlines, sign up to the C&I e-newsletter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top