05 July, 2010

Profiteering in supermarkets?

5th July 2010

Like most Australians, I certainly would not begrudge primary producers displaying signs of relief at the news of lamb tipping the $5/kg mark and celebrating some degree of good fortune.

Many Australian consumers, particularly those in urban areas, do not appreciate the work that goes into running a property nor the many factors that can have a negative effect on the farmer's bottom line.

However, as a person also involved in the retail sector I cannot understand how some supermarkets are charging consumers between $27 and (according to reports on ABCs Landline) over $41/kg for lamb!

Certainly, in a relatively free market, a product can be offered for any price a retailer chooses and the so called "unseen guiding hand of the market" will dictate whether the venture is successful. One expects there to be a mark up to cover the costs of transport, processing and power in supermarkets to keep the meat fresh, but surely such a difference in pricing indicates nothing more than blatant profiteering?

The prices demanded by the retail sector are not a true indication of the price paid to the producer of the good. Again, it may be considered an economic heresy in today's enlightened age, but isn't some form of guideline required here?

The price consumers see on the packet goes a long way to the influencing the position in which they imagine our farmers to be. They hear there is a shortage of lamb and see $41/kg in the meat cabinet and assume the farmers are driving new 4WDs and sunning themselves each year on a beach in the Bahamas.

Supermarkets need to be made accountable to both their consumers and to the supplier of their product, either through the pressure of a primary industry representative body with some teeth, or by the actions of an educated consumer-preferably a combination of both.

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