Now the main game - more grocery competition

CHOICE outlines plans to bring about supermarket reform

CHOICE says its been vindicated by the findings of the Senate inquiry into GroceryChoice which will help develop the reforms necessary to bring more competition to the supermarket sector.

It says the Senate Economics References Committee recommendations should make the government and major supermarkets reveal their plans, if any, about a industry-operated grocery price website. CHOICE also welcomes the call for the ACCC to investigate potential breaches of the Trade Practices Act by the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA), the trade body that represents the major supermarkets, in talks with CHOICE over GroceryChoice.

CHOICE CEO Nick Stace says it’s now time to move onto the main game—trying to break down the market domination of the big two supermarket chains.

“There now needs to be a crackdown on the culture which has normalised anti-competitive behaviour and a national consensus on the actions required to bring about real change,” said Mr Stace. CHOICE says recent OECD data that suggests Australians pay more for food than comparable nations highlights the need for more price transparency and greater competition in the grocery sector.

“GroceryChoice has been a political football. But now we must tackle the real issue of a lack of serious competition in this market,” said Mr Stace. “The rate of food inflation, the ACCC grocery inquiry and the establishment of GroceryCHOICE all relate to the massive market share Coles and Woolworths enjoy in this vital sector. Australians who care about this issue - consumers, farmers and independent grocers - need to join forces and build a consensus for change.”

CHOICE wants the supermarkets to be open and is calling for a fair deal for all supermarket customers.

There needs to be :

  • A sense of urgency. The need is to bring about change in the next five to ten years not the next fifty.
  • A more proactive stance from the ACCC to tackle the issues of creeping acquisitions, anti-competitive behavior and market dominance in this sector.
  • Serious questions to be asked about the need for cheaper food, market share in regional areas and whether the ACCC needs divestiture powers.
  • Consumers need to mix it up. There is a cost to the convenience of using major supermarkets and benefits in using smaller and independent grocery outlets as part of the weekly shopping mix.

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