Senate Inquiry Targets Coles, Woolworths for Possible Price-Gouging

The Australian supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have been cautioned against raising prices before Christmas. This warning comes as they are set to face a Senate inquiry, a demand made by the Greens. 

The inquiry, announced by Greens senator Nick McKim, aims to investigate these supermarkets’ price-gouging allegations. McKim emphasised the importance of the inquiry in addressing market dominance, unfair pricing, and limited competition, with the goal of reducing grocery prices.

Assistant Competition Minister Andrew Leigh expressed the government’s support for the inquiry, acknowledging public concerns over high prices and the government’s efforts to address inflation and the cost of living crisis.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has specifically urged supermarkets to maintain current ham prices for the holiday season, recognising the financial strain on families.

Statistics from the Australian Bureau show a significant rise in food and non-alcoholic beverage prices, outpacing overall inflation rates since December 2019. However, in the past year, these prices have increased at a slightly lower rate compared to general inflation.

Representatives from Coles and Woolworths have commented on the situation. The Coles spokesperson acknowledged a moderation in their inflation rates, especially in essential items, but also mentioned the challenges of rising business costs. Woolworths’ representative stated their commitment to providing value to customers while dealing with inflation pressures in collaboration with suppliers.

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