Coles and Woolworths to front Senate over price gouging

Coles and Woolworths are set to be grilled at an upcoming Senate inquiry that will look into price gouging during Australia’s cost of living crisis.

The inquiry, which is expected to move through the Senate this week, will examine the costs and revenues of both supermarket chains which both reported profits of over $1 billion earlier this year.

The Greens party is leading the charge on the inquiry, with Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson, Senator Nick McKim, saying Coles and Woolworths have had too much market power.

“This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard. It’s time to smash the duopoly,” McKim said.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end.

“We want the CEOs to justify their decisions in a public hearing.”

The latest inquiry would be the third examining supermarket pricing, as there are currently two others still active in the Federal Parliament – the Cost of Living inquiry, which is not due to report until 31 May 2024 and and an inquiry into promoting economic dynamism, competition, and business formation.

In a statement given to Mumbrella, a Coles spokesperson said the supermarket’s rate of inflation has been “progressively moderating”.

“At Coles, we believe all Australians should be able to put quality food on the table for their families, at a good price – particularly as they face high cost of living with rising interest rates, and household expenses like energy and fuel,” the statement reads.

It continues: “Coles is also not immune to the increased cost of doing business – construction costs, energy prices, the cost of logistics and packaging have all risen. Our suppliers are also challenged with many of the same increases and, rightly so, we have experienced a greater volume of supplier price increase requests which we have to balance.

“We are always exploring ways to reduce prices on the products we sell.”

In a separate statement given to Mumbrella, a Woolworths spokesperson said: “We know Australians are feeling the strain of cost of living and we are working to deliver relief in their weekly grocery shop.

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

“We are committed to offering our customers value while working with our suppliers to sensitively manage economy-wide inflationary pressures.”


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