Coles and Woolworths to Face Inquiry Led by Greens in the Senate, Investigating Market Power and Alleged Price Gouging


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   Coles and Woolworths are set to undergo scrutiny in a Senate inquiry focused on probing market power and accusations of price gouging. This comes as Australians grapple with inflation concerns, particularly in the lead-up to the costly Christmas season.

The Greens are at the forefront of this inquiry, which is anticipated to occur next year. The investigation aims to delve into the effects of market concentration on food prices and the pricing strategies employed by the supermarket duopoly.

Senator Nick McKim, the Economic Justice Spokesperson for the Greens, asserted that the supermarket giants wield "too much market power." The inquiry is poised to shed light on the dynamics of market control and pricing practices, addressing concerns about the impact on consumers amid rising inflation.

The accusation against Coles and Woolworths continues to escalate as Senator Nick McKim alleges that the major supermarkets are amassing billions in profits through what he terms as price gouging amid a cost of living crisis.

McKim asserted, "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. Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end."

Backing these claims, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young spoke on Sunday to ABC, highlighting the challenging circumstances faced by shoppers in the lead-up to Christmas. She emphasized the increasing difficulty of managing grocery expenses, stating, "The cost of the trolley at the supermarket is becoming a really hard thing to bear week in, week out."

Hanson-Young also questioned whether the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) needs more authority in this domain. She expressed the need for scrutiny on large corporations that profit significantly. At the same time, many Australians struggle to meet their food bills, citing Woolworths' billion-dollar profit in the context of widespread financial challenges.

The upcoming inquiry investigates various aspects, including the surge in supermarket profits, notable price hikes in essential items, and the prevalence of opportunistic pricing. Coles and Woolworths have reported profits exceeding $1 billion in the past fiscal year. This raises concerns amidst a broader context of a 5.3 percent rise in food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation in the twelve months leading up to October. Specific items like bread and cereal have seen an 8.5 percent increase in costs.