Australian PM: Action taken to tackle rising grocery prices

15:05, November 09, 2009      

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Monday the federal government had already done plenty to increase competition in the grocery business.

Rudd was responding to reports the cost of groceries in Australia was rising exponentially.

According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures, Australian grocery prices have risen 41.3 percent since 2000 - faster than Britain's 32.9 percent or America's 28.4 percent.

The government has come under increasing fire over the duopoly enjoyed by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, which between them have a majority share of the Australian market.

"If you maximize competition in the grocery industry you therefore put downward pressure on prices," Rudd told reporters.

"In September the government's competition watchdog ended restrictive agreements in leases between shopping centers and Coles and Woolies."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission move means that the major grocery sellers can no longer lock smaller competitors out of large shopping centers.

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