Parliamentary Investigation on Supermarket Price Practices Resumes in Orange

In a recent revelation, a former cherry farmer, Michael Cunial, shared his ordeal of being shortchanged nearly $85,000 by major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths. Cunial, hailing from Orange, recounted his losses from seven deliveries of cherries, where he expected $90,000 for 15 tonnes but received a mere $5800 on the seconds market.

Cunial’s story sheds light on the unfair pricing practices prevailing in the industry, prompting other farmers to reconsider their involvement. Guy Gaeta, another farmer from Orange, emphasised Cunial’s fortunate escape, contrasting it with the plight of countless others who’ve walked away with nothing after years of toil.

Gaeta highlighted the ruthless standards imposed by supermarkets, citing the absurdity of requiring zucchinis to be perfectly straight, hinting at an impending absurdity where even bananas might be subjected to such demands.

The ongoing parliamentary inquiry, spearheaded by the Greens, scrutinises the pricing and competition strategies of Australia’s dominant supermarket chains. Allegations of corporate profiteering and price gouging have surfaced, implicating both consumers and suppliers. Despite the companies’ denial, claiming improved in-store productivity as the reason behind recent profits, the inquiry persists.

Senator Ross Cadell, representing the Nationals on the committee, stresses the importance of addressing farmers’ concerns, which inevitably affect consumers at the checkout. He underscores the Nationals’ commitment to advocating for fairness for both farmers and families.

In a recent Tasmanian hearing, local farmers advocated against dismissing the possibility of forcibly splitting Coles and Woolworths. Jeremy Griffith from the National Farmers Federation warned against giving unchecked power to the existing duopoly.

However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rejected the proposal, citing Australia’s private sector economy and eschewing comparisons to a command and control system like the old Soviet Union. This decision disappointed Senator Cadell, who believes divestiture powers should remain on the table until the inquiry concludes its investigations.

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