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Greens Announce Inquiry Into “Price-Gouging” By Major Supermarkets

Australian supermarkets will face a Senate inquiry into “price gouging” as the country struggles with cost-of-living pressure.

On Sunday, the Greens announced it would lead the select Senate inquiry, investigating the impact of market concentration on food prices and the pattern of pricing strategies by major supermarkets, Coles, and Woolworths.

The price rise of essential items, validity of discounts offered and inflation of profits amid economic hardship will also be investigated.

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Greens economic justice spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said it was “time to smash the duopoly” and ensure Australians could “afford to eat without being exploited”.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits by price gouging in a cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

“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.”

It’s expected the inquiry will be established next week when Parliament meets for the final time in 2023 with initial hearings will take place in early 2024.

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In the year ending in June 2023, Coles’ profit rose 4.8 per cent to $1.1 billion, while Woolworths was up 4.6 per cent to $1.62 billion.

A Coles spokesperson said the supermarket believed “all Australians should be able to put quality food on the table for their families, at a good price”.

“Coles is always exploring ways to reduce prices on the products we sell and is not immune to the increased cost of doing business. Construction costs, energy prices, the cost of logistics and packaging have all risen.”

Coles spokesperson

Meanwhile, a Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket was “working to deliver relief”.

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

Woolworths Spokesperson

Since May 2022, the Reserve Bank of Australia has risen interest rates 13 times in a bid to rein in inflation – however it means living-cost pressures nationwide has increased.

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