Supermarkets misleading consumers: VFF

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 12th May 2008

Victoria’s peak farming body, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), has suggested Australia’s major supermarkets are duping customers by providing the same product under three different brand names with three different prices. Their claims were made at the ACCC’s grocery price inquiry in Melbourne today.

The VFF outlined their belief that the major supermarkets use the same suppliers for certain products in their private range and then charge different prices for different brand names. “There’s a home brand, there’s a medium one, then there’s the top one,” VFF Deputy President Meg Parkinson said, according to AAP. “They don’t say Woolworths or Coles, they have got another name. Basically the product is the product. You’re paying a different price for the brand, not for the products. It’s pure profit.”

“It’s usually the same people who are supplying them at the same price.”

However, Coles and Woolworths have strongly refuted the accusation with a Woolworths spokesperson dismissing them as “nonsense”. Both supermarkets indicated they used different suppliers and had different quality levels for different brands that were priced at contrasting rates. Coles spokesman Jim Cooper was forthright in his opinion of the claims. “Any claim we take one product and re-badge it three is absolute rubbish,” he asserted.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel, meanwhile, has called for farmers to come forward in private to the ACCC if they have anything they want to add in the wake of the claims. He was particularly seeking any evidence of bullying tactics by members in the supply chain.

“We want to hear about these because they are really important in terms of our understanding of their position in the marketplace today,” he said at the inquiry.

The ACCC is due to announce their findings into grocery prices and the nature of competition in the industry by July 31.