NSW Farmers’ Association, Media Release, 5 June 2023
Farmers are calling on the Federal Government to implement competition reforms that will tackle cost of living pressures.
NSW Farmers CEO Pete Arkle said the ACCC had made a number of recommendations in its 2020 Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry that would bring food prices down for consumers, but so far they had been largely ignored.
“We know food is the second-largest household expenditure behind housing, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting a 12.8 per cent increase over the past year,” Mr Arkle said.
“The cost of groceries is increasing not just because of inflation, but because of years and years of consolidation in the food processing and retail sector, and that’s the crucial part that needs to be addressed.
“The entire reason the ACCC came to be in the first place was to protect the consumer, and implementing recommendations from the Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry would be an excellent starting point to bring food prices down for consumers.”
Among the ACCC recommendations NSW Farmers wanted to see implemented were:
- An economy-wide prohibition on unfair trading practices
- An overhaul of the current merger and acquisition approval process
- Making the Food and Grocery Code mandatory with civil penalties for breaches
Mr Arkle said there also needed to be an analysis of supply chain profits, with a focus on markups and price gouging.
“Families are under pressure, farmers are under pressure, we need to get to the bottom of this and – more importantly – do something about it,” Mr Arkle said.
“We believe the level of market concentration we see today has led to incredible power imbalances that are driving up the cost of food for consumers.
“If we are to get in front of the cost-of-living crisis, the government must act on these ACCC recommendations.”