Sunday, August 10, 2008

FuelWatch and GroceryChoice

FuelWatch continues to be mauled during the Senate Committee process.

Today on Meet The Press, the Consumer Minister Chris Bowen found a great way of selling it.

Here's what he said:

"What is FuelWatch?

When the Government puts out a tender, when the Government wants to buy something which is expensive, it says to people who want to sell it to them, "Put in a price, put in your best price, and then we'll judge it, and you can't reduce that price because we want your best price up front."

This is giving motorists a chance to call for a tender for their petrol and really, the conservatives in the Senate should get out of the way and let motorists have that opportunity."

GROCERYchoice is actually rather good.

Critics have been saying it tells you nothing more than that ALDI is cheap, and that the IGA/Independents are expensive. The Australian has even argued that the website is an advertisement for ALDI.

(Try it for yourself, typing in your own postcode.)

But that's beside the point. The facts are that ALDI is very cheap and that this information is useful.

About the report of the ACCC Grocery Price Inquiry...

Commenter Tick Tock writes:

"A non-event of massive proportions. Unit pricing + zoning laws + Horticulture regs. Yawn. The report pretty much vindicates the supermarkets, as does the Government's response."

But I think this too misses the point.

The ACCC did a very thorough job and did indeed discover that not much is wrong in the supermarket industry (apart from the role of Metcash). This is an important finding. A surprising one to many, but important one.

We shouldn't dismiss the worth of its inquiry just because it has shot down some interesting theories - that's as important as finding those theories correct.

By the way, here's an interesting graph from the report of the Grocery Prices Inquiry: (click to enlarge)

Our own Woolworths turns out to be very, very profitable.