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Australia Initiates Review of Supermarket Competition and Pricing

Australia initiated a comprehensive review into pricing and competition within its supermarket sector on Thursday, unveiling a set of policies aimed at enhancing household finances and addressing declining popularity.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would lead the 12-month inquiry, marking the first review since 2008. The ACCC’s investigation will scrutinize changes in sector competition since 2008, pricing dynamics across the supply chain (especially between farms and supermarkets), and barriers to competitive pricing.

Albanese emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring Australians pay fair prices for essential goods. The move serves as a warning to the dominant players in the supermarket industry, primarily Coles and Woolworths, amidst a series of measures aimed at supporting families during challenging times.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci pledged cooperation with the ACCC inquiry, expressing expectations of moderation in food inflation throughout 2024. Coles also affirmed its collaboration with the ACCC, reaffirming its dedication to keeping groceries affordable.

In addition to the supermarket competition review, Albanese announced adjustments to planned tax cuts, redirecting more benefits to low- and middle-income households while scaling back benefits for the wealthy.

The review into supermarket competition follows the appointment of former minister Dr. Craig Emerson to evaluate a voluntary industry code of conduct, with potential implications for its mandatory adoption.

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