Friday, June 26, 2009

GroceryWatch was an election promise

The new Minister Craig Emerson has canned it.

And CHOICE, which was to do the work for it, is most unhappy:

For immediate release:

Five days before launching the new improved GroceryChoice site the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Craig Emerson has met with the big three supermarkets and decided that price transparency doesn't work for them. CHOICE was informed about the decision after the industry and the media were fully briefed.

This is the first significant decision by the consumer minister since taking office and overturns a Government promise to support greater transparency in consumer pricing through GroceryChoice.

Within days consumers would have had access to timely and accurate information across the leading supermarket chains on which to base their purchasing decisions. This has been a remarkable achievement given that of the big supermarkets, only Aldi and FoodWorks were brave enough to support the project.

CHOICE chief executive Nick Stace said "I am shocked and disappointed at the decision by the consumer minister to side with supermarkets rather than consumers. Supermarket prices are higher in Australia than many other developed countries and CHOICE agreed to deliver GroceryChoice because we believed we could make a difference for consumers.

"In five days' time the start of a revolution in supermarkets was about to begin with consumers given up-to-date information on 1000 products, rising to 5000 within weeks. To pull the site five days before launch shows that we were on the money and the supermarkets are worried about losing out to consumer demands.

"This is a bad day for consumers but a day that makes CHOICE more determined than ever to campaign with consumers for a more competitive grocery sector and lower prices.

"The minister's suggestion of an industry-based website to provide grocery price data is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank."