The Wheeler Centre
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Question Time: Supermarket Superpowers and Ethical Groceries
Competition drives prices lower and forces everyone to improve their game – so it’s in the consumer’s interest, right? Well, not really, unless price is the only thing you care about.
The domination of major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths over our groceries has a wider impact than most of us realise: not just on what we buy, but on what Australian farmers grow, the kind of produce other retailers can access, and the quality of what’s available to eat.
There’s also an environmental impact: so-called economies of volume can result in inefficiencies of size, and the destruction of large volumes of food. And when all the growers in a region are contracted to the supermarket giants, alternative retailers are forced to travel further afield to source produce.
Investigative journalist (and acclaimed novelist) Malcolm Knox has explored all of these issues for The Monthly, and in Supermarket Monsters: The Price of Coles and Woolworths' Dominance. Madeleine Morris talks to Knox, as well as sustainable food specialists Dr Nick Rose and Kirsten Larsen, to untangle it all.