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Analysis and Comment (35)

Aldi and Lidl bring with them all kinds of new competition in the supermarket wars. Aldi and Lidl bring with them all kinds of new competition in the supermarket wars. PA/PA Wire

New problems posed for big brands by discount supermarkets

The decline of big supermarkets in the face of brutal competition from discount retailers like Aldi and Lidl has been widely discussed. But, as shoppers move away from conventional ways of shopping, little…
Root and Branch review in the offing at Tesco? Root and Branch review in the offing at Tesco? Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

New Tesco CEO might enjoy the benefits of a dramatic debut

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The well-known words of Winston Churchill are probably on the mind of Dave Lewis, the new CEO of Tesco. The company faced what many deemed to be the worst crisis…
That’s a tasty-looking risotto, but it might also contain mushroom species not yet known to science. That’s a tasty-looking risotto, but it might also contain mushroom species not yet known to science. Chuck Olsen/Flickr

What’s in your porcini packet? You may find a new species … or three

Mycologists – scientists who study fungi – estimate there are up to five million species of fungi on Earth. Of these, only about 2%, or 100,000 species, have been formally described. So where are the other…
Leaving a sour taste. Tesco struggles to find a value proposition. Leaving a sour taste. Tesco struggles to find a value proposition. StefZ

A wicked blueprint for tackling Tesco’s woes

Imagine taking over the reins of a firm which only a few years ago was regarded as one of the best run companies in the UK, but now routinely posted declining market share, moribund profits, and mounting…
Supermarkets like to portray themselves as healthy places to shop. Supermarkets like to portray themselves as healthy places to shop. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Don’t be fooled, supermarkets don’t have your health at heart

In their bids for greater market share, Australia’s two largest supermarket chains sometimes portray themselves as healthy places to shop. But Woolworths' latest “Jamie’s Garden” sticker campaign might…
It’s hard to pin down the supply chain for prawns. It’s hard to pin down the supply chain for prawns. EPA/Daniel Munoz

Slavery is a crime – it shouldn’t be up to consumers to fight it

The use of slave labour in the global chain that supplies prawns to supermarkets in the US and the UK has been highlighted by a report in The Guardian. Following a six-month investigation, it was revealed…
Where brands would previously compete with no-frills brands, now they produce them as part of a new strategy. Where brands would previously compete with no-frills brands, now they produce them as part of a new strategy. AAP/Daniel Munoz

No-frills alternatives are helping our favourite brands survive

Only a few years ago jokes about home brand products were quite common. Having a blue and white or red and white dinner meant enjoying generic brand fare that night around the table. But the recent intensification…
You’ve bin caught. You’ve bin caught. Shamus Dollin

Iceland bin ‘thieves’ should have had their day in court

On the night of 25 October 2013, Paul May, James Chan and William James were arrested for taking food out of the bins at an Iceland store in Kentish Town. Iceland denied they had called the police or sought…
What if you could save on your online shop by switching delivery times? What if you could save on your online shop by switching delivery times? Blue Square Thing

Using big data for smarter online supermarket shopping

The online grocery market has been growing in the double digits in the UK and is on the rise all over the western world. Retailers are fighting to get their share of the business and spend big on launching…
Our food environment could influence the type of food we buy. Our food environment could influence the type of food we buy. Hopkinsii/flickr

The ACT’s food environment plan is good – here’s why

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has introduced a Healthy Weight Action Plan aimed at curbing the number of obese people in the territory. As its name suggests, the plan seeks to create…
We think checkouts influence obesity but does it? We think checkouts influence obesity but does it? Jurijus Azanovas

Hard Evidence: do supermarket checkouts make kids obese?

Your eye gets caught by the dried apples slices and pistachios but your child, sitting in the trolley, sees the Percy pig sweets. The queue is moving slowly, how well do you resist? A commentary by Deborah…
Bleuurgh, gross! Get it on Facebook quick. Bleuurgh, gross! Get it on Facebook quick. Nick Saltmarsh

Pics in the bin, Fridgecam and the digital war on waste

Our awareness of food waste is increasing all the time, yet we continue to throw away vast amounts of produce even when we don’t need to. We are getting tired of being lectured on our habits so its time…
A new grocery code of conduct provides new rules for a sector subject to price wars, but will not solve all market problems. A new grocery code of conduct provides new rules for a sector subject to price wars, but will not solve all market problems. Lukas Coch/AAP

Coles and Woolworths code useful, but beware disputes

Coles, Woolworths and the Food and Grocery Council have released a draft industry code of conduct to help govern their relationships with suppliers. The code will be “voluntary” under section 51AE of the…
Ready, steady, go - but not not everyone likes traffic systems. Ready, steady, go - but not not everyone likes traffic systems.

Food traffic lights are green for go but EU holds back more radical measures

Last Wednesday was a good day for those of us who have been campaigning for years for more understandable food labelling. The UK Government announced their final recommendation for front-of-pack nutrition…
Desperately seeking Tesco. Desperately seeking Tesco. Lynne Cameron/PA

Supermarkets can lead high street rebirth

A report released yesterday by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) outlines a very bleak future for the UK high street. A fifth of shops are expected to close in the next five years, with 316,000 job…
Coles' ten-year deal with farmers' cooperative Murray Goulburn will have significant consequences for the dairy industry. Coles' ten-year deal with farmers' cooperative Murray Goulburn will have significant consequences for the dairy industry. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Coles' milk deal gives supermarket suppliers a reason to be sour

Earlier this month, Coles and Murray Goulburn announced a ten-year deal that is likely to have significant consequences for the dairy industry, as well as Australia’s grocery sector more broadly. Starting…
A dramatic decrease in the availability of sow stall pork and caged eggs has been driven by consumer concern. A dramatic decrease in the availability of sow stall pork and caged eggs has been driven by consumer concern. AAP

It’s no yolk: grocery giants commit to animal welfare initiatives

Australia’s two largest grocery retailers, Coles and Woolworths, have vowed to dramatically decrease the availability of pork and egg products sourced from intensive farming systems. The decision was made…
Long supply chains are common in the food industry, which is mostly concerned with cutting costs and “just on time” management. Long supply chains are common in the food industry, which is mostly concerned with cutting costs and “just on time” management. AAP

Horse meat scandal’s long tail highlights risks of lengthy supply chains

Back in September 2012, an Irish food safety inspector noticed some discrepancies in the labelling and packaging of some frozen meat brought in by a small import-export company. By January 2013, the scandal…
Proving that Woolworths and Coles engaged in unconscionable conduct with their suppliers will be a lengthy and difficult task for the ACCC. Proving that Woolworths and Coles engaged in unconscionable conduct with their suppliers will be a lengthy and difficult task for the ACCC. AAP

ACCC grocery inquiry will take a long time to bear fruit

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has declared open season on Coles and Woolworths. In an unusual step, the ACCC’s chairman, Rod Sims, discussed his organisation’s current investigations…
The ACCC has put suppliers' claims of supermarket bullying under the spotlight, but the magnitude of the duopoly’s supermarket power should also be addressed. The ACCC has put suppliers' claims of supermarket bullying under the spotlight, but the magnitude of the duopoly’s supermarket power should also be addressed. Image from www.shuttershock.com

ACCC’s inquiry into supermarket bullying misses the real issue of duopoly power

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced last week that it is investigating claims that Coles and Woolworths are bullying suppliers. The issue is serious, but the ACCC investigation…
Market share: Two companies in Australia control more than half of the country’s bread and bakery business. Market share: Two companies in Australia control more than half of the country’s bread and bakery business. Flickr/looseends

Confronting corporate power in the food system

The Federal Government’s current national food plan process is heavily dominated by business interests. It is built on flawed assumptions that the market can provide the solutions that our broken food…
Prominent signage of unit pricing could help consumers make more informed choices about their grocery shopping. Prominent signage of unit pricing could help consumers make more informed choices about their grocery shopping. AAP

Unit pricing is smart shopping practice, but do consumers care?

In the confusing world of brands, package sizes, advertising and price promotions, what can help consumers make informed choices? Unit pricing – the price per standardised unit of measure introduced in…
Read the second part of our In Conversation between Stephen King (left) and former ACCC head, Graeme Samuel. Read the second part of our In Conversation between Stephen King (left) and former ACCC head, Graeme Samuel. AAP

Graeme Samuel: the problem with petrol, the NBN and the ‘scare campaign’ against supermarkets

Welcome to part two of our In Conversation between the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Graeme Samuel and Monash’s Professor Stephen King, also a former competition regulator…
Graeme Samuel and Stephen King: two of Australia’s most senior regulators sit down together for The Conversation. Graeme Samuel and Stephen King: two of Australia’s most senior regulators sit down together for The Conversation.

Graeme Samuel: We’ve lost principled, analytical debate in this country

What happens when two of Australia’s best known former competition regulators sit down together and talk about the world? A wide-ranging discussion on the state of Australia’s political debate, xenophobia…
Is the “waterbed effect” - where manufacturers attempt to recoup discounts given to large retailers by raising prices for smaller competitors - an issue in Australia? Is the “waterbed effect” - where manufacturers attempt to recoup discounts given to large retailers by raising prices for smaller competitors - an issue in Australia? AAP

Who suffers when retailers exercise their market muscle?

When a major retailer uses its countervailing power (or “market muscle”) to negotiate better terms from suppliers, should policy makers be concerned? In Australia, the debate has focused on dairy farmers…
Pharmacy retailing is the last frontier for large supermarket chains. Pharmacy retailing is the last frontier for large supermarket chains. Flickr

Is pharmacy the final frontier for supermarkets?

Australia’s two major supermarket retailers, Coles and Woolworths, already have vested interests in fuel, convenience, liquor, hardware, hotels, apparel, general merchandise and technology. While they…
Are fruit and vegetable producers being caught up in the pricing war between Coles and Woolworths? Are fruit and vegetable producers being caught up in the pricing war between Coles and Woolworths? Supplied

Get ready for a fruit fight: the fallout from Coles' price war on produce

Amid tough trading conditions and intense competition, Coles has fired the latest salvo in its ongoing supermarket war with Woolworths, announcing it will reduce the price of some fruit and vegetables…
The claim of “free to roam” is being challenged by the consumer regulator. The claim of “free to roam” is being challenged by the consumer regulator.

Impressions count when it comes to misleading consumers

Christmas is coming, which means consumers are out looking for great deals to fill stockings and feed the family. And for retailers and manufacturers, the temptation to add “spin” to their marketing is…
The budget shopper is alive and well - but what of the “ethical” shopper? The budget shopper is alive and well - but what of the “ethical” shopper? AAP/Woolworths

We are what we eat: the demise of the ethical grocery shopper

In 1954, American consumer behaviour academic, Gregory Stone identified four different types of consumers. Consisting of 150 in-depth interviews, Stone’s research found there was an “economic” shopper…
Compared to countries like France, Australia’s food is expensive - but why? Compared to countries like France, Australia’s food is expensive - but why? AAP

Mon Dieu! Why is Australian food so expensive?

I am fortunate to have recently returned from a holiday in France. While there I couldn’t help noticing the much lower price of many foods. Croissants and brioches retail for around $1.35 (1 euro) or less…

Research Briefs (1)