Price war rings alarm bells
GYMPIE'S civic leaders threw their support behind the region's produce growers yesterday, adding their voices to the chorus crying foul over Coles' decision to slash the prices of fruit and vegetables by 50%.
Mayor Ron Dyne expressed his deep concern for the future of the industry which plays an important role in the Gympie region economy.
State Member for Gympie David Gibson said the behaviour of supermarkets was a major source of concern.
Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss said there was a real risk farmers could become the collateral damage of a new price war.
Primary production, which includes agriculture, forestry and fishing, generates more than $157 million (or 9%) of the Gympie region's $1.5 billion gross regional product.
It is the second-highest contributing industry to the region's economy, surpassed only by manufacturing.
Cr Dyne said yesterday his fears were for all primary producers and called on the Federal Government to intervene.
He said he had little faith in the ability of competition watchdog the ACCC to make a difference if it was brought in to investigate.
"We have seen what they have done to the dairy industry, now they are doing it to our fruit and vegetable farmers and what's next?" he said.
Mooloo bean farmer Len Carlson says the supermarkets have too much power in Australia, receiving 75-80% of all produce grown in the country.
"Once they get a real toe-hold they will be saying what the prices of fruit and vegetables will be," he said.
"Any (producer) who thinks this is not going to affect them is mistaken."
Mary Valley fruitgrower Heinz Gugger believes the situation will get worse for farmers before it gets better.