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Questions remain on grocery prices

6 August 2008

WHILE new analysis on grocery prices is welcome, Australian farmers remain frustrated that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) Grocery Price Inquiry has been unable to shine significant new light on the operations of the food supply chain.

“Although the ACCC analysis has started the process, farmers remain bemused as to why there is such a huge gap between what farmers are paid at the farm-gate and what consumers are charged at the checkout,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Vice-President Charles Burke said.

“Only a comprehensive review of the complete supply chain will help farmers and consumers to understand where the consumer dollar is going. That transparency is essential if any of us are to have confidence in retail pricing.

“Despite the Inquiry terms of reference clearly calling for analysis on the entire supply chain, the NFF has been concerned that the Inquiry has focused too heavily on the retail sector. The ACCC report reinforces our view, with the actions of many within the supply chain remaining relatively ignored.

“Without identifying efficiency problems or market breakdowns along the supply chain, our concern now is that simply cutting prices or adding costs at the retail end will mean slashing, even further, what farmers are paid for their produce.

“Despite the ACCC’s assurances, we also remain concerned about those products, such as beef, where retail prices have risen in recent years while farm-gate prices have stagnated or declined.

“One thing farmers were looking for, and the ACCC has recognised, is that written contracts need to apply between all purchasers of horticultural produce… wholesalers, exporters, processors and retailers alike.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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