Who to blame for shop costs?

Ross Magnay thinks there is good reason for the grocery price disparities. PHOTO: CHARLOTTE MARTIN 375701_01

The Greens have an eye on an inquiry into grocery prices at supermarkets, with a point being raised in state parliament this week the possible disparities between metropolitan and regional area pricing.

Greens Treasury data showed the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages in South Australia had increased by eight per cent over the last year, while Foodbank had recorded a 57 per cent increase in families visiting their food hubs.

Greens Treasury spokesperson Robert Simms is moving to have multiple points examined, including the impact of high grocery prices on consumers – particularly for those on low incomes – the relationship between wholesale prices paid to farmers and the retail price paid by consumers.

“The cost of everything is going up, including essentials like groceries,” he said.

“Sadly, many families are going to struggle to put food on the table this Christmas – meanwhile, Coles and Woolies continue to make enormous profits.”

Port Lincoln shopper Ross Magnay said he believed there were many costs involved from the time the farmer sells a product at the farm to the point the supermarkets sell products from the shelf.

He said it could not all be blamed on the supermarkets.

“You take a piece of beef for example, the stock agent goes out to the farmer and says you can get X amount of dollars for that, then he takes his couple of bobs worth out of it,” he said.

“Now the truck driver comes along and he gets a load of beef and takes it along to the slaughterhouse, he gets his share out of it, the slaughterhouse, they get there share out of it then they send it on a truck back to someone to package it maybe and by the time it gets to the supermarket people are blaming them, saying the supermarkets are ripping the farmers off. “There’s all the fuel and power prices for keeping the products refrigerated, that’s just one example. So sure, the supermarket may be making a bob out of it but so’s everybody else, nobody is doing it for nothing if they can get a profit out of it.”

At the start of the month the federal government renewed the contract of the part-time Independent Reviewer of the Food and Grocery Code for a three-year period.

The government said the code was introduced in 2015 to lift the standard of commercial conduct between the major supermarkets.

Christopher Leptos was appointed as the independent reviewer of the code in August 2021. During that time Mr Leptos worked collaboratively with the signatories, code arbiters and industry peak bodies to promote compliance with the code.

The annual survey of suppliers and signatories, as well as Mr Leptos’ annual report helped shine a spotlight on instances of poor conduct so they could be addressed before problems become systemic.

Further information on the role of the independent reviewer could be found at grocerycodereviewer.gov.au