The Nationals WA have backed calls for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into fruit and vegetable pricing in supermarkets.
Leader of the Nationals WA Shane Love has labelled the unfair price disparities as a form of exploitation of both farmers and everyday West Australians.
“In this cost-of-living crisis, West Australians are struggling to afford fresh fruit and vegetables whilst big supermarkets have reported record breaking profits,” Mr Love said.
“Meanwhile, fruit and veg growers are telling us that the high prices seen in supermarkets aren’t being reflected at the farm gate.
“Something just doesn’t add up,” Mr Love said. “We need to ensure Coles and Woolworths have been doing the right thing by growers and customers, and the Federal Labor Government appears to have taken their eye off the ball.”
Mr Love said the current price of an iceberg lettuce at Coles and Woolworths this week was almost $4 – when they could regularly be purchased for as little as $2 in recent years.
“Fresh fruit and veggies are a crucial staple for West Aussie families, yet price volatility has soared well beyond CPI, placing pressure on families already doing it tough, and leaving farmers shaking their heads,” Mr Love said.
“Questions need to be asked around why prices have skyrocketed, and only the ACCC has the appropriate powers to compel the major supermarkets to provide evidence and determine appropriate penalties for those doing the wrong thing.”
Shadow Agricultural Minister Colin de Grussa said a recent survey by peak vegetable industry body AusVeg found “record low morale” for growers.
“Veggie growers are still experiencing crippling workforce shortages in the aftermath of COVID-19 disruptions, while dealing with increasing production costs and tightening margins,” Mr de Grussa said.
“AusVeg now reports that, alarmingly, more than 30 per cent of Australia’s vegetable growers are considering leaving the industry this year.
“While Premier Roger Cook needs to spare a thought for the thousands of jobs that will be lost if we see a third of carrot, potato and tomato farmers forced away from the industry in the next 12 months.”
Mr de Grussa urged West Aussies to visit The Nationals WA website and sign the petition in support of the ACCC inquiry.
“The farmers who feed our country deserve to be paid fairly for their produce, and consumers deserve transparency around the prices that are paying Coles and Woolworths.”
To sign the petition, go to www.nationalswa.com/fruit-and-veg-price-inquiry-petition