More scrutiny for supermarkets over food costs

Supermarkets have come under scrutiny over the price of food at the checkout.

Supermarkets have come under scrutiny over the price of food at the checkout.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles wants tougher penalties for retailers found to be price gouging.

Miles will meet supermarket bosses on Thursday, and said he hoped to get answers about the discrepancy between what farmers say they’re getting for their produce and what consumers pay at the checkout.

He said some stories from farmers were “harrowing” and no one should be treated the way some had been.

“These are important people, they our families, they work hard every day and I don’t want to see them walking off their farms because the land is more valuable than what they can get for their produce and because they’ve been treated poorly by supermarkets,” he told ABC TV.

Miles’ comments came after the federal government announced a review of the Food and Grocery code of conduct, aimed at improving business standards in the sector.

Miles welcomed the review.

“My personal view is that [the code] shouldn’t be voluntary, it should be mandatory,” he said.

“There should be tougher penalties that make people think twice about price gouging.”

The review, led by former Labor minister Craig Emerson, will report to the government this year.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said a key issue will be whether the existing voluntary code should be made mandatory. This week he suggested his government was open to giving the consumer watchdog stronger powers to crackdown on grocery price gouging.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chief Gina Cass-Gottlieb said on Tuesday the regulator was investigating dodgy price claims made by the supermarkets. She also took the unusual step of confirming it was investigating potential legal action against one of the major chains.

-with AAP

Topics: ACCC
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