(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s supermarket chains will be forced to answer an inquiry by the nation’s senate regarding their profits, as the rising cost of living becomes a political issue.
Chief executives of the country’s largest food retailers, Woolworths Group Ltd. and Coles Group Ltd., are poised to face policymakers over their price setting practices and “market power” after Australia’s Greens won support from the governing center-left Labor Party for public hearings in 2024.
“For too long the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard,” Greens Senator Nick McKim said in a statement on Sunday. “We’ll find a way to dismantle their power and bring grocery prices down.”
Coles and Woolworths are the two largest supermarket chains in the country with just over half the market share combined, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The companies lead competitors on economies of scale in distribution and from heavy investment into online shopping.
Focus on the issue underlines the political currency to be had as cost of living pressures rise across all income brackets. Surging inflation and the interest rate increases instituted to dampen them have created a consumer crunch in Australia. Figures from the benchmark consumer survey reported consumer sentiment continued to decline last month even as unemployment remains low.
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