Controversial move to make food prices clearer

Supermarkets in Australia could be forced to reveal what percentage of the retail price of fresh produce goes to farmers.

Under a private member’s Bill tabled to go before parliament this week, Australia’s major supermarkets would be required to show consumer what price they were charging in contrast to what farmers were paid.

Politicians hope the Farm Gate Pricing Bill would reduce the gap between what supermarkets charge and how much producers receive.

The Bill, drafted by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and House of Representatives Independent Bob Katter, would need the support of a major party to be passed.

An inquiry into the country’s grocery pricing in 2008 concluded that there was no “significant problem” with farmgate prices.

Australian consumer watchdog Choice said there was a risk consumers could become confused by being given so much information.

It said it would be better to introduce a retailer ombudsman to deal with grievances.

Zoe Davies, National Pig Association general manager, said it introducing farmgate price labelling would be an interesting idea for the UK, but warned it would be difficult to do it in a way which was meaningful to consumers.

“It’s not just as simple as a farmer selling a product and the retailer putting it on the shelf,” she said.

“It will be confusing to the consumer who will see the price and think the supermarket was putting up a massive mark-up. It’s more complicated – you have to take into account processing and haulage and things like that.

“Transparency of cost through the chain is important and it’s something we have been trying to get to the bottom of.

“But how to do that in a meaningful way is difficult. It’s important people know how much they are paying and where it’s going, but it’s more difficult that it looks at face value.”

• What do you think of the idea? Would it work in the UK, or would it just confuse consumers? Have your say in the FWi forums.