Woolworths: Food inflation figures falling

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th May 2008

Woolworths, Australia’s biggest grocer, has indicated that food inflation for the month of April was well below the figures seen in March.

Inflation in the March quarter was registered at 4.5% according to Woolworths’ financial data, well above the 2% figure registered in the first half of this financial year. Woolworths boss Michael Luscombe indicated at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch on Friday that food inflation for April had not been as strong as March. “We’ve just looked at the inflation rate for April, and it’s actually come off a little bit,” Mr Luscombe said. “So it’s gone back under four per cent, which I think is great news.”

Mr Luscombe indicated that the decreased inflationary pressure had been led by fresh produce with packaged goods still experiencing high inflation levels. He also outlined his beliefs that competition in the food retail sector in Australia was strong. “If it wasn’t for the high level of competition in food retailing in Australia, I’ve no doubt that the inflation rate in recent years would have been far higher than it is now,” he claimed.

The comments come following claims by the Australian Beef Association and Victorian Farmers Federation that the major supermarkets have been taking advantage of consumers. There has also been public concern about the state of supermarket competition, with the ACCC due to report their findings on the industry’s competitiveness by the end of July.