The Grocerychoice website is being used as a brand promotion tool for Australian supermarkets after the October grocery survey data released labelled a major supermarket brand as the ‘cheapest’.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA)’s executive director Richard Evans said the ‘highlights’ section of the Grocerychoice website shows dangerous signs of government brand promotion.

“Since its introduction in July the Grocerychoice website has done nothing to reduce costs for working families. The out-of-date information and the website’s limited coverage of supermarket sites over long distances make it impossible for consumers to extract any meaning from this farcical attempt to reduce the weekly grocery bill.

“But now the Rudd Government is taking a dangerous turn and promoting particular big supermarket brands by naming them the ‘cheapest’ in Australia. There is no place for government interference in brand promotion and marketing of Australian supermarkets. This is overt favouritism of major brands while local grocers and fruiterers are being ignored.

“Grocerychoice does not promote options for Australian families; it is one step away from an advertising campaign for Australia’s biggest brands which is contrary to government pronouncements on market share issues.

Evans said real solutions need to be found to reduce grocery prices rather than the smoke and mirrors approach the Rudd Government has taken so far with the Grocerychoice website, as well as their plans to introduce unit pricing.

“Australian grocery retailing is highly competitive to the benefit of the consumer. Our major retailers are excellent. The market doesn’t need government intervention, like Grocerychoice, which discriminates against small independent grocers. It’s not Grocerychoice; it’s Grocerypromo.”

“If the government really wants to reduce grocery prices they should be taking some action on the recommendations to the retail leasing inquiry released in August. While the ACCC’s inquiry into grocery prices has confirmed the cost of production and domestic weather conditions are affecting the cost of goods going to market, retailers are still struggling with escalating occupancy costs.

“This is retail economics 101 – to reduce retail price we need to reduce costs and occupancy is one of the highest overheads for retailers,” said Evans.