The government has decided not to proceed with Grocery Choice. Following a meeting today with the major grocery retailers, it has become clear that the website is not feasible the way it is currently set up.
The government still believes that consumers are better placed to make informed choices when they are able to gain access to prices conveniently and make comparisons among supermarkets.
However, the Grocery Choice proposal as originally envisaged would not be able to generate reliable, timely data as a basis for consumers to make meaningful comparisons in their local neighbourhoods, said Dr Craig Emerson, Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy.
“In Australia there are thousands of supermarkets and thousands of grocery items. Upon close examination of the data requirements for reliable price information, I have formed the view that it is not feasible to generate that information in a timely manner,” he said.
“Less comprehensive and less timely data could be generated but it would have significantly less value to consumers.”
Emerson will hold discussions with supermarket chains about the possibility of an industry website capable of providing convenient grocery price data that could be audited by a government-appointed auditor.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said Minister Emerson had listened to the needs and wants of the retail sector, saving $13 million of taxpayer money.
"The Grocery Choice site, while initially well intentioned, provided out-of-date data and irrelevant price comparisons for shoppers," he said.
"The Australian grocery market is highly competitive – prices can change by the hour and vary between locations. The information on the Grocery Choice website provided no community benefit and by recognising this Minister Emerson has saved taxpayers $13 million dollars.
"This decision demonstrates an openness and rationality towards issues impacting the retail sector and the ARA looks forward to working with Minister Emerson in the near future," said Evans.