Coles, Woolworths, and the local

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Australia is home to one of the most concentrated supermarket sectors in the world, and the practices of the ‘big two’ supermarkets have far-reaching consequences on food production and retail at the local level. This article surveys key issues in Coles and Woolworths’ effect on the food retail and production sectors, and looks at how these supermarkets have adapted in recent years to concerns and criticisms, as well as recent moves towards addressing these criticisms. Over the past decade, several important shifts have occurred which suggest an evolving consumer consciousness and increasing discontent with the corporatised supermarket sector. A primary concern is lack of competition, which reduces incentives to keep prices low for consumers; furthermore, these supermarkets have also been charged with wielding substantial buyer power, resulting in lower prices paid to suppliers. Quality of produce is a further issue, while the rise of private label goods such as milk is concerning for both suppliers and retail competitors. This discontent has led to an ideological opposition to these supermarkets, resulting in public campaigns to prevent their entry into towns and suburbs. Finally, new developments by Coles and Woolworths to improve their reputations, although still at an early stage, are examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-81
Number of pages35
JournalLocale : the Australasian journal of regional food studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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