Farm Gate Pricing Bill seeks transparency from Australian supermarkets

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th August 2011

A new private member’s Bill to be tabled this week to Australian Parliament would, if passed, require Australia’s major supermarkets to reveal what percentage of the retail price of their fresh produce goes to the farmers.

The Farm Gate Pricing Bill, drafted by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and House of Representatives Independent Bob Katter, would need the support of a major party, in order to be passed.

Senator Xenophon’s Media Advisor, Rohan Wenn told Australian Food News, “The Bill would allow consumers to see the price the supermarket is charging in contrast with the amount the primary producer is receiving.

“Independent grocers would be exempt but major supermarkets would be required to publish the farm gate prices at point of sale and also on their websites.

“Farmers have previously expressed concern that there is a huge gap between what the supermarkets charge and how much the farmers are paid for fresh produce.”

A spokesperson for Woolworths told Australian Food News that farm gate pricing was looked at extensively by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2008 in an inquiry into grocery pricing and it was considered to be “not a significant problem”.

Supermarket chain Coles was unavailable for comment today.

Ingrid Just, spokesperson for consumer watchdog Choice said, “We think it is better if the position of a supermarket ombudsman is created to become the independent arbitrator. There is only so much information that consumers can take in when juggling kids, crowds, and shopping lists at supermarkets.

“An ombudsman would allow for a dedicated focus for people with grievances to take them to. The information would be better in the hands of a regulator who could follow through on what needs to be done,” Miss Just added. “Meanwhile, it is also up to the ACCC to see if there is a misuse of market power.”