Is food safety suffering because of Australian grocery duopoly?

Food safety is always the top priority of a retailer – when talking to the press. It’s usually different on the ground.

A reader says quality assurance staff at many food providers are being sacrificed for the bottom line, insisted upon by the two primary food retailers in Australia – Coles and Woolworths.

According to The Age (the newspaper in Melbourne) suppliers to Woolworths claim they have been given two weeks to cut their prices by up to 10 per cent or have their goods removed from shelves — with no commitment from the supermarket giant to lower prices to consumers.

The squeeze on suppliers — described by one of them as "the most brutal negotiations… in my three decades in the industry" — is being mounted by Woolworths to help fund its price war with Coles.

The primary beneficiary of this price war appears to be the media, with fancy adverts popping up all over.

Woolworths spokeswoman Claire Kimball said there was no two-week completion cut-off in its negotiations and "nothing unusual happening at the moment … When we put our position to vendors we often ask them to come back to us in two weeks with their response. However it is a negotiation and this often necessitates ongoing discussions."