Households struggle in face of increasing grocery costs

To cut down on grocery costs, households are spending more time shopping around for savings.

To cut down on grocery costs, households are spending more time shopping around for savings. Photo: AAP

Parents sacrificing meals to keep their children fed has become the  norm for some Australians struggling to pay for their weekly essentials.

Rising prices at supermarkets are forcing more lower income households to spend up to a quarter of their total income on groceries, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

More than 13,000 Australians have responded to an ongoing survey by the consumer watchdog as part of their inquiry into supermarkets price gouging.

To cut down on grocery costs, households are spending more time shopping around for savings and cutting back on non-essential items, the ACCC said.

“Some people have also reported skipping meals or sacrificing meals to feed children properly, the ACCC said.

More families say they have turned to frozen fruits and vegetables as a cheaper alternative.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the survey is designed to deepen the watchdog’s understanding of how Australian consumers shop for groceries.

The ACCC also wants to understand what current supermarket practices concern consumers the most since the COVID-19 pandemic and “recent sharp increases” in living costs.

“A clear theme in the survey responses so far is that consumers consider the price of groceries to be a major factor in the cost of living crisis,” Mr Keogh said.

With submissions still open until April 2, the chair is urging more people to share their voice on the matter given that “grocery shopping is an essential in everyone’s life.”

“Having responses that reflect the whole community’s experience will help us to identify the right issues that need to be explored more deeply in our inquiry,” Keogh said.

A Senate inquiry established in December 2023 is also looking into the price setting practices and market power of major supermarkets.

More than 100 submissions were handed in by individuals and organisations, including farmer unions and national councils.

Findings from the ACCC’s consumer survey will be included as part of its interim report due by the end of August.


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