Australia: Major stores denied price rises to farmers in 15 years

In a Senate inquiry’s first public hearing, Australian fruit and vegetable growers revealed that they have not seen price increases from major supermarkets in 15 years. Farmers are now facing pressure to fund recent price promotions, leading to concerns about the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Jeremy Griffith, a representative from the horticulture sector, expressed that the negotiation tactics and low prices imposed by supermarkets, particularly Coles and Woolworths, have contributed to the widespread bulldozing of orchards and an exodus from the industry.

Griffith, a council member of the National Farmers’ Federation, emphasized that Australia’s food sector should not be subject to the influence of a “large corporate duopoly.” He highlighted the stagnant supplier prices, stating that the average age of growers is increasing as the younger generation sees a lack of future prospects in agriculture.

The Senate inquiry aims to investigate how major supermarkets set prices and use their market power when dealing with suppliers. The committee, chaired by Greens senator Nick McKim, held its first public hearing in Tasmania, with subsequent hearings scheduled in New South Wales and Victoria. Additionally, a separate 12-month probe by the competition regulator is ongoing.

Griffith criticized the unfair buying process, citing supermarkets’ enforcement of a narrow window for price negotiations for perishable produce. He also revealed that fruit growers were asked to reduce their prices to finance a recent promotion campaign, putting additional financial strain on farmers.

Woolworths, which recently announced price drops on various items, including fruits, did not immediately respond to inquiries. Coles was also contacted for comment. The major retailers have long dominated two-thirds of the market, and farming groups argue that the recent inflationary period has exposed issues related to the lack of competition, with increased pressure on food producers.

The committee heard that rising food prices are causing financial strain on Australians, leading some to resort to dumpster diving, theft, or skipping meals. Activist Danny Carney highlighted the major supermarkets’ dominance in providing essential items, making it challenging for people to afford basic necessities. Rising living costs are particularly impactful in Tasmania, where unemployment levels are above the national average, putting a strain on the youth population.

Tammy Tyrrell, a member of the committee and Tasmanian senator, expressed concern about the major supermarkets’ actions, stating that locals believe they are not acting in the best interests of the state or the country. Reports of young Tasmanians resorting to dumpster diving or shoplifting due to unaffordable food prices underscore the severity of the issue.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles