HomeFoodPrimary producers losing millions to supermarket pricing tactics

Primary producers losing millions to supermarket pricing tactics

The federal Senate inquiry into supermarket pricing has exposed another shameful practice by Australia’s supermarkets.

In a submission to the inquiry, leading industry body for vegetable growers AUSVEG said the supermarkets were ‘rejecting’ what they claimed was sub-par produce, which they then expected for free.

“One in five farmers report that rejected produce is given to supermarkets for free, and one in four stated that supermarkets expect imperfect produce for free,” AUSVEG said in its submission.

“Therefore, rejection of produce could also be a method for retailers to manipulate growers into providing low-cost or free produce, while still setting high retail prices.”

AUSVEG also claims retailers may be manipulating the market.

The group says producers enter into non-binding agreements with retailers for weekly supply but those agreements do not oblige the retailers to accept the full amount. 

News.com reported that a significant majority of growers report that supermarkets are rejecting a considerable portion of that weekly supply, with sometimes as little as 50 per cent appearing on shelves.

This forces farmers to destroy the harvest or take their chances on the wholesale market, where they almost always have to accept a lower price. 

“Retailers, who actively monitor prices in the wholesale market and buy from market agents, then advise the grower that the wholesale price is low, and therefore put pressure on the grower to accept lower prices,” the AUSVEG submission said.

“Are the retailers deliberately manipulating the market and causing an oversupply through over-inflated supply agreements?”

AUSVEG said that the financial situation was so “dire” that about 34 per cent of growers were considering leaving the farming business.

“Australia’s fresh produce supply chain is at a tipping point and the future of the vegetable industry is in serious jeopardy due to a lack of profitability and compounding year-on-year losses for farming operations throughout the sector.”

AUSVEG represents more than 3600 vegetable producers that account for 3.6 million tonnes of vegetable production, and an annual farmgate value of $5.8 billion. 

This week’s best specials


Sensible: KB Gyoza, half price $8.50. I can’t tell you the overwhelming feeling of relief of finding a packet of these in the freezer on those can’t-be-bothered nights. Easy to cook and easy to eat.

Indulgence: Easter eggs. With the festive weekend end coming up, the supermarkets will be ramping up their Easter offerings. Get in now and avoid last-minute panics. Plus, can anyone explain the appeal of Crème Eggs? Just not seeing the attraction to this sloppy liquid-in-a-chocolate thing.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Lamb forequarter chops, $11. This cut of meat seems to have gone out of fashion but I love it on the barbecue. That extra fat adds a great taste cooked over hot coals and a simple marinade can take them to the next level. Australia’s summer heat doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so crank up the barbecue while you can.

Indulgence: Morning Fresh, half price, $4.75. Never pay full price for Morning Fresh; it goes on special about once every two months. Rare to see it half price these days, so snap this one up.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Ironbark Pork Ribs, $14.99. Don’t be overwhelmed by ribs. Just marinate them, bung them in the oven and away you go. Stick under the grill for a bit towards the end if you like them crispy.

Indulgence: Dairy Fine Easter Egg Hunt Kit, $8.99. Not sure why you would need a ‘kit’ for an Easter egg hunt, but here we are. My tip, hide them where the kids won’t find them, then you can graze them at your leisure. Probably doesn’t work in Australia’s hot bits.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Hass avocados, $1.49 each. People can afford avo on toast, and houses, at this price. 

Indulgence: Brown Brothers Prosecco, $15. If you are looking for some Easter bubbles, it’s hard to go past this cheap and cheerful brand, which is kind of the whole point of prosecco.

See the catalogue here.

Do you make a point of buying fruit and vegetable seconds? How have you found the quality? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: They are packaged as healthy, but do these foods live up to the hype?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Having been brought up on a farm I find it unbelievable that we are going to lose so much of our fresh produce due to the greed of the supermarkets. A few years ago they made the asparagus farmers sign on to supply all year round or not at all. Now the farmers have to do the importing from Mexico instead of the supermarkets. When I was a child the farmers used to bring truckloads of their produce and sell through the churches, surely there is some way they can still do that now when their produce is in season.

  2. I’m hopeless at gardening , the first time I grew a tomato plant I got one single cherry tomato . But I stuck in there with my couple of raised garden beds and now I have my own home grown silver beet ,lettuce and tomatoes plus spring onions and lemon grass . Vegetables that I don’t have to buy regularly . I too grew up on a farm and we grew our own basic vegetables to feed our family of eleven .It can be done with a little thought and perseverance .

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