Rising inflation has sent prices up at the checkout, prompting calls from farmers for a crackdown on price gouging.
The Consumer Price Index jumped 2.1 per cent this quarter – and is up 5.1 per cent over the past year – but NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee Chair Guy Gaeta said not all was it seemed at the checkout.
“People are paying more for their fruit and vegies at the supermarket, but the farmers aren’t selling them for more, so who’s really raising the prices here?” Mr Gaeta asked.
“Sure you’ll get a little lift in prices because of the cost of fuel, but not like we’ve seen at the checkouts recently.
“What we’re seeing is the power of the major supermarkets lifting food prices and pocketing the extra profits.”
Last week NSW Farmers staff visited supermarkets and green grocers in Sydney to compare the prices of fresh food. They found bananas, potatoes, oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers were all at least a dollar a kilo cheaper at a green grocer less than 100 metres from a major supermarket. There were even bigger savings on mushrooms and celery, while onions were less than half the price per kilo than the supermarket. Seasonal produce was also markedly cheaper.
Mr Gaeta said it was the result of systemic competition failures in Australia, and he called for a commitment from both sides of politics to solve the problem once and for all.
“How is it that big supermarket chains with their own warehouses, their own trucks, their own supply chains, that they’re dearer than the little guys?” Mr Gaeta asked.
“We’ve had a number of government reports that there’s no level playing field for farmers, small businesses and consumers, and that needs to stop.
“We need both major parties to have the courage to commit to the competition law reform and fix this broken model that is costing Aussies at the checkout.”