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Coles and Woolworths under scrutiny after public outcry of profiteering

Coles and Woolworths under scrutiny after public outcry of profiteering
Coles and Woolworths under scrutiny after public outcry of profiteering

A parliamentary inquiry is set to look into food affordability in Australia, specifically focusing on Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. 

Australia’s third largest political party, the Greens, managed to put pressure on the government with more than 4,000 signatures on a petition.

The Greens claim Australians struggle to make ends meet while supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths are “jacking up their prices.” 

The party claims desperation has hit a tipping point, with Victorians “struggling to feed themselves and their families.” This while it alleges “Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profit.” 

In a statement, they make damning allegations of profiteering: “They’re increasing their profit margins and making you pay more than you need to. The Greens are pushing the labor government to take on the supermarket duopoly to cut the cost of food for everyone.”

Neither of the two supermarkets has responded to the serious claims. 

Unfair pricing and stifled competition

The Guardian reports that if one compares profits strictly derived from groceries, it’s clear the two supermarkets have “enjoyed a leap in margins during the cost-of-living crisis.”

Coles and Woolworths recently reported a massive annual profit amid a public outcry from shoppers over the soaring prices, grappling to feed families. 

Coles logged an annual profit of $1.1 billion, an increase of net profit after tax of 4.8% compared to the previous year’s $1.048 billion. The group has recorded a sales revenue increase of 5.9% to record $40,483 billion in the full financial year at the end of 2023.

Ironically, Coles CEO Leah Weckert acknowledged customers’ continuously “voiced frustration about the high cost-of-living.” But the 4.8% profit has been a bitter pill for customers.

Weckert says: “Eating out, takeaways and coffees from the cafe are increasingly being seen as treats for a special occasion. Customers are looking at the supermarket, hoping to do more with their budget. They are looking for more specials, more affordable brands.” 

Woolworths also recorded a $1.62 billion profit with a dramatic margin lift three months ago. Its net profit increased by 4.6% in the full financial year. But what agitated most concerned customers was the 20% rise in earnings.

Australians take desperate measures

News reports are surfacing, painting a desperate picture of families trying to survive the pressure of high food prices. An Aussie father has told Australia News how he had to make a tough decision to sell their belongings and relocate overseas “due to the country’s ridiculous cost of living.”

He is among many Australians who love the country but simply “couldn’t afford to live in Australia as a family anymore.”

The annual inflation rate is currently 5.4%, and the cash rate is at its highest since 2011, at 4.35%.

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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